With stirring semifinal victories completed, two teams with contrasting brands of football get down to a captivating climax of the 2010 Metfone C-League season Saturday. Arguably one of the most balanced and dynamic teams in the Kingdom, Phnom Penh Crown are brimming with confidence against a cock-a-hoop Preah Khan Reach determined to ride out a wondrous run to their first title triumph.
For Crown manager Be Makara, events of the last week were a “quiet reflection of the team’s inherent strengths.”
“I picked up a lot of positives from our victory against Naga,” he said. “We did exactly what we are good at, and for the next vital game, we just need another spark.
“We are capable of exerting pressure up front, our midfielders cover most of the pitch, we can stay solid defensively and most importantly our counter attacks have been very effective.”
Crown will be without their key star forward, Uche Prince Justine, who is serving a suspension after receiving his second successive yellow card in the previous match.
“Yes it is a setback, but we have to get over it,” said Be Makara during a training session on the outskirts of Phnom Penh Wednesday. “Olisa [Onyemerea] is a good striker, and he will lead the charge upfront. Most of our other players pick themselves, and I am quite happy with the way Peng Bunchhay handled the pressure in the goal last time.”
The Crown boss also downplayed the significance of PKR’s 3-1 victory in their last league game two weeks ago. “We couldn’t field our regular line up on that day for various reasons. It is not an excuse for that loss, but we somehow couldn’t produce our best. Now things are different. Players are freshened up and I feel the momentum is with us this time.”
Be Makara revealed his only nagging worry pertained to the quality and comitment of the match officials on the day. “Somehow we have this queasy feeling that we get a raw deal on crucial decisions. I hope I am proved wrong,” he said.
PKR, meanwhile, are assured of their highest ever finish in the league with their previous best of third in last year’s campaign.
Having drafted talents from U17 and U19 pools, the teams has struck a fine balance between youth and experience. Derided by many as unglamorous, PKR have successfully hit back at the detractors with some solid performances, whilst dismissing claims from rival teams that they have benefited from favourable refereeing.
“Khuon Laboravy and Sam El Nasa are our key players, and I am confident that our goalkeeper Ouk Mich will come up with a good show,” said Rith Dikar. “There are no injury worries in the team and the spirits are quite high.
“We have to perform our best to beat a side like Crown, and I feel our boys are just about ready and eager to do it.”
With three league titles in the past five years, many regard Saturday’s final as Crown’s to lose. However, their military police backed opponents will not be in benevolent mood and armed to fight every kick of the way.