Photo by: Sreng Meng Srun
Naga Corp’s Chin Chum (right) and Phnom Penh Crown’s Chan Dara battle during their Metfone C-League game.
PP Crown 4 Naga Corp 0
Phnom Penh Crown manager Be Makara landed a tactical gamble as his side emphatically ended league toppers Naga Corp’s unbeaten run with a 4-0 thumping in their Metfone C-League match at Olympic Stadium Saturday. In the second match, intermittent rain was hardly a dampener for Build Bright United, who swamped tailenders Chhma Khmao 8-0 to seal their Super 4 deal.
Naga coach Prak Sovannara played down the significance of the side’s first defeat this season as more of an irritant than a body blow, while Crown boss Be Makara described the victory as “morale-boosting and a form swing the team had been working hard for”.
Naga’s top spot was secured last week, while Crown and BBU moved into joint second Saturday evening on 36 points.
Saturday’s much-awaited top-draw contest threw up phases of Crown brilliance as an uncharacteristically subdued Naga went down without a whimper.
Referee Yeanky Vathanak’s overzealous handling of the game will be long remembered, despite noticeable physical elements from both teams. He flashed as many as 11 yellow cards – six for Naga, five for Crown – and sent off two Naga players, including a harsh dismissal for goalkeeper Kha Yheara in the 88th minute.
Crown’s first strike came from a corner kick on eight minutes, with defender Tieng Tiny granted a simple tap in amongst the crowd. Eight minutes before the interval, a well -directed Sok Pheng cross set up towering Nigerian striker Olisa Onyemerea to put Crown 2-0 ahead.
A modicum of relief was restored to the Naga ranks when they set upon the Crown defence early in the second session. But Crown held out and regained the initiative, with Hong Ratana helping himself to a goal from a favourable rebound off the post after Onyemerea’s thundering drive.
The last nail in the coffin was driven in following Naga keeper Kha Yheara’s red card for what appeared to be an accidental collision with Crown substitute Hong Ratana in the area. Soeurng Monirath was forced to borrow the jersey from the departing stopper, but stood no chance in stopping Onyemerea’s sweetly rolled spotkick.
BBU 8 Chhma Khmao 0
A steady drizzle turned the pitch soggy as slips and slides became common sight in Saturday’s second game. The demanding underfoot conditions hardly deterred university backed Build Bright United from carrying out a slaughter of the innocents.
The Black Cats have turned out to be the season’s most favoured punchbags, and this fixture was no different. Nelson Oladiji initiated the one-way traffic with a seventh-minute goal, and the lead doubled half an hour later through Chun Sothearth. Substitute Phim Pheara produced the third for BBU during time added on in the first half.
Black Cats’ captain and spearhead Sok Kolarama lost his footing twice when poised for a strike from close range shortly after the restart, but BBU were again ready to appease their goal appetite. In a half-an-hour blitz, BBU struck five more times.
Sophat Chansokunthina started the second half onslaught just after the hour mark, and in-form striker Nuth Sinoun helped himself to a brace. Midfielder Oum Chandara also got on the scoresheet, while Chun Sothearath completed his own double to cap off the rout with a minute of regulation time left.
The BBU camp was understandably delighted to confirm their place in the Super 4 playoffs with a match in hand, with one member revealing “our aim is to take up a higher order than Crown”.