Phnom Penh Crown captain Kouch Sokumpheak helped push his side past the winning post on Saturday by scoring the decisive goal of their 1-0 victory over Naga Corp at the Olympic Stadium to clinch their fifth league championship title with two games to spare in the Metfone C-League.
A skilful assist from Australian midfielder Adriano Pellegrino created the chance for the slipper to head home on 52 minutes, with vociferous support from fans in the stands willing them on to seal their ninth-straight win of the second half of the season.
As the final whistle blew, the Crown bench emptied onto the field to conduct raucous celebrations including a traditional ice-cold soaking of their Swiss coach Sam Schweingruber.
“We really enjoyed what we’ve done since the season kicked off, which obviously shows how united the whole Crown squad is. Our captain did his best job to help us out today,” Schweingruber told the Post after the game.
With the victory on Saturday, Crown held an unassailable 10-point lead over second place Boeung Ket Rubber Field, with reigning champions Svay Rieng and Naga Corp essentially left to scrap for third and fourth spots.
Crown will next face Svay Rieng before taking on Boeung Ket on the last day of the season on July 27. However, the champions were adamant they would not rest on their newly acquired laurels.
“We still need to complete victories in all matches of the second half of the season, despite already clinching the trophy,” added Schweingruber.
“We will try hard to gain success in international events, including the Mekong Cup and the AFC President’s Cup. It’s not only for Crown but also for Cambodian football field.” In 2012, Crown made it to the final of the AFC President’s Cup, where they were beaten 3-2 by hosts Taiwan Power Company in a fractious game that finished with three Crown players sent off.
Others game on Saturday saw Svay Rieng hammer Build Bright United 3-0, Ministry of National Defence edge Albirex Niigata 2-1 and TriAsia beat Asia Europe University 2-0.