Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Cup quarterfinals set to begin




Cup quarterfinals set to begin

Cup quarterfinals set to begin

The weekend will see teams face off at Olympic Stadium for the chance to play in the Samdech Hun Sen Cup semifinals, with intriguing matchups on offer

TWO of the eight teams that have qualified for the quarterfinals of the 2010 Samdech Hun Sen Cup are in uncharted territory, with the remaining six sides – unsurprisingly, all Cambodian Premier League clubs – having previously made the grade.

Wat Phnom, who last year plied their trade as Spark FC and successfully avoided relegation from the top tier, made the quarterfinals for the first time in their history, and Kampong Chhnang outfit Rithi Sen also broke new ground and surprised everyone by beating the favoured Kirivong Sok Sen Chey 4-2 in the last-16 knockout stage.

Spectators at Olympic Stadium over the past two weeks have also been treated to fine displays by provincial sides Chhma Khmao (Svay Rieng), Koh Kong and Oddar Meanchey, who couldn’t quite handle the quality of their experienced opponents. Here is a breakdown of quarterfinal matches to be played this Saturday.


Phnom Penh Crown’s Srey Veasna hits a half volley during their match against Phouchung Neak.
Wat Phnom’s Khieu Vibol charges during their match against Mekong Kampuchea University.
Photos by Nick Sells (www.nicksellsphotography.com)

Phnom Penh Crown v Wat Phnom
A late solitary strike from substitute Heng Sok Ly against his former team Phouchung Neak on January 30 helped the two-time winners Phnom Penh Crown advance to the last eight of the tournament. They now face Wat Phnom, who the same day destroyed Mekong Kampuchea University 10-1. Though both teams have met in the CPL, this will be their first Cup tie against each other.

Last year, Wat Phnom were knocked out in the preliminary round, but this year’s tournament saw them finish second after Koh Kong in group F, played in Kep. Fortune was clearly on their side, as they were drawn against a shell-shocked college team who were easily dispatched to make the next round.

Vann Dara, Wat Phnom’s manager, knows his team has their work cut out in the quarterfinals. “Phnom Penh Crown will be our big challenge,” he said. “We need to strengthen our squad. However, I’m so happy with the results from the previous matches. My players did their job well; they had good communication between each other to manage the ball.”

In last year’s CPL season, Phnom Penh Crown took all six points from Wat Phnom, winning 2-1 and 6-3.

“On the basis of history, we have better results than Wat Phnom,” stated Crown manager Be Makara. “But what they did against Mekong Kampuchea University in the knockout stage impressed me too much. Their players gave a great performance with a good one-to-one passing network. So we need to be careful for the upcoming match.”

However, the Crown boss was not satisfied with their game against Phouchung Neak. “We might have scored more than one goal if my players had shown good cooperation,” he opined. “Some of them liked keeping the ball without passing to other teammates. I want them to avoid this attitude.”


Build Bright United’s Hy Sok Veng plays during their match against Prey Veng January 31.
Build Bright United’s Hy Sok Veng plays during their match against Prey Veng January 31.
Photos by Pha Lina

Naga Corp v Build Bright Utd
Current CPL champions Naga Corp have failed at the final hurdle in two previous Cup campaigns. In the inaugural cup in 2007, they lost to Khemara 4-2 on penalties after a 1-1 draw in regulation time. In 2008, they were knocked out by Phnom Penh Crown in the last-16 stage, but reached the final once more last year, where Crown again beat them 1-0.

Build Bright United (BBU) also boast a promising Cup record, having qualified from the preliminary rounds of all three previous tournaments and making the semifinal stage twice. In 2007, they won the fair play award after losing 4-1 to Phnom Penh Crown in the third-place playoff. They went one better in 2008 to claim third after beating Khemara Keila. However, in 2009 they came up against Crown in the last-16 round, losing 1-0.

In five CPL meetings between the sides, the tally stands at 3-2 in favour of Naga. Last year, Naga thrashed BBU 5-2, but the university-backed side took revenge in the reverse fixture, winning 3-2.

In the knockout stage, BBU trounced provincial side Prey Veng 7-0, while Naga ploughed in four in the last 14 minutes to win 6-2 over Chhma Khmao.

“I respect the opponents who reached this step,” expressed BBU coach Meas Sam Oeurn. “The only thing that we must do is train up our squad. I believe in my young boys, they will try their best for victory.”

However, the coach revealed some injury troubles. “Now we have problems with two midfielders, Oum Chandara and Chhun Sothearath. I hope Chandara will recover quickly because he has only a small ankle injury, but Sothearath, who is also a midfielder for the national team, may be absent because he has a severe problem with his ankle and knee. Doctors have recommended he stay home for a few months. Maybe I’ll use striker Prum Puthsethy to play in the central position, but it’ll be a big problem for us in attack.”

Nov Vuthy, newly-appointed coach of Naga Corp, said he hoped his team could go all the way this year, but showed respect for his opponents. “We have many experienced players. I think that everything will be okay for us. However, we must learn our weakness, and we will reinforce ahead of the upcoming match. BBU is not an easy team – we were beaten by them in the past.”

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