Naga Corp’s Teab Vathanak (C) takes on Boeung Ket’s Um Kompheak (L) and Touch Pancharong during their Metfone C-League match on May 12. Photograph: Sreng Meng Srun/Phnom Penh Post
Both teams involved in tomorrow’s championship decider of the 2012 Metfone C-League stand to make Cambodian football history. The match, which kicks off at 3:30pm at Olympic Stadium, features perennial heavyweights Naga Corp in the hunt for a record-equaling third domestic title and Boeung Ket Rubber Field, who eye a remarkable end to their debut season in the top tier.
The match up also welcomes a sibling rivalry of coaches, with Naga’s Prak Sovannara facing off on the touchline against his older brother Prak Vuthy of Boeung Ket.
Boeung Ket’s controversial move to field Nigerian hitman Julius Oiboh, who played in Thailand throughout the regular season, for the Super 4 playoff campaign seemed not to concern Prak Sovannara.
“Sure, Julius is a great player but he used to play for us [last year], so we know very well the way he plays. I won’t be any obstacle for us,” said the Naga coach.
Prak Sovannara revealed the “good news” that Sun Sovannarithy and Neang Chenla, both of whom were injured for the semifinal against National Police on Sunday, had returned to training ahead of the final.
League winners in 2007 and 2009, Naga will look to avenge their runners up place to Phnom Penh Crown by equaling their casino-backed nemeses’ record of three league titles. Prak Sovannara is also pursuing his second successive coach of the tournament award.
Naga lost to Preah Khan Reach in the final of the Hun Sen Cup this year, their third straight defeat when in touching distance of the trophy, so a last chance at silverware this year will not be taken lightly.
“We hope we will end the sad memory of our last final to win the title this year. Our players can do it,” added Prak Sovannara.
Naga’s squad includes four players – San Narith, Sun Sopanha, Kenneth Nwafor and Thun Sotherith – who won the league with Crown last year.
Prak Vuthy, meanwhile, remained calm at the prospect of an incredible feat by the Kampong Cham team promoted from Division A1 last year.
“Everything is okay for us in the final,” he told the Post yesterday. “We don’t have any injuries, and our players will play with determination to win our first ever league title. Naga Corp is a great team but we’re well prepared to play against them.”
While offering the obvious Oiboh as their key to success, the coach singled out the homegrown talents of Keo Sokgnon, Touch Pancharong and Khiev Vibol as decisive factors.
Boeung Ket also boasts squad members that have scaled the heights of the league in the past, including Keo Sokgnorn, Lor Pich Seila, Chan Rithy and Nwakuna Friday, while goalkeeper Peng Bunchhay and midfielder Hong Ratana were on the champion Crown side last season.
In their previous two league meetings of 2012, Naga triumphed 2-1 and 3-0.
To contact the reporter on this story: Ung Chamroeun at [email protected]