Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Khemara Keila kick themselves

Khemara Keila kick themselves

Khemara Keila kick themselves


Khemara Keila squandered numerous chances to allow strugglers Post Tel Club to grab a point in a 1-1 draw Saturday while Naga Corp’s African players showed their worth in a 3-1 victory over National Defence Ministry

Khemara Keila's Ty Bunvicheth (center) takes a shot at the Post Tel goal during their Cambodian Premier League match Saturday at Olympic Stadium.

AT the start of Saturday's match, the gap between the two teams was 20 points, with Khemara Keila occupying third spot in the Cambodian Premier League (CPL), and Post Tel Club languishing in ninth. And that's pretty much how the game played out, with Khemara clocking up the chances with monotonous regularity and Post Tel holding on for dear life.

But football has a way of bringing you back down to earth with a bump, and Khemara, looking to move up to within two points of the league leaders, were made to pay for their wayward finishing and overconfidence.

Post Tel started the game brightly, with Gafar Durosinmi seeing his low drive pushed aside by Khemara goalkeeper Mak Theara early on.

But as expected, it wasn't long before Khemara stepped on the gas and took the game to their lowly opponents. Missing two of their African stars upfront, Khemara replacement striker Sophal Odom was determined to show his worth and swept the ball over the line for the game's opening goal on 30 minutes, after Kuoch Sokumpheak had flicked on Ty Bunvicheth's corner.

With Sophal Odom and Kuoch Sokumpheak leading the Post Tel defence a merry dance, both strikers should've extended the lead but failed miserably, as did teammate Loch Ratha, who blasted his shot miles over the crossbar when well-placed.

The game continued in the same vein after the halftime break, and within a couple of minutes of the restart, Ty Bunvicheth found himself all alone in front of goal, but spurned another gilt-edged opportunity. Chances came and went for Khemara, and Post Tel must've been dreading the final tally when they lost defender Kun Kuon to a red card for a last-man foul on Sophal Odom on the hour mark.

Khemara were left kicking themselves for an appalling waste of at least half a dozen second-half opportunities to extend their lead. With just five minutes of the match remaining, Khemara's Chan Dara lay prostrate in his own box with teammates standing still, as Ouk Chheng Hort raced away down the right wing and delivered a perfect cross for Durosinmi to knock in the equaliser, very much against the run of play.

Khemara's Kuoch Sokumpheak still had time to fail again in front of the sticks in injury time, as his team sank to their knees with frustration at the final whistle, while Post Tel celebrated as if they'd just won the league.


Naga Corp's Meas Channa (left) and National Defence Ministry’s Huot Sokunthear chase down a ball Saturday.

MND 1 Naga Corp 3
National Defence Ministry (MND) are the only team in the CPL that don't employ any of the foreign contingent, who ply their trade in Cambodia's top division. And that was their downfall in this match, as they were undone by the superior skill and finishing ability of two of Naga's African players.

MND began with a flourish, and in Nov Sokseila they have one of the CPL's most exciting young talents, with his dashing wing play and relentless determination. Occasionally it boils over into frustration, though his speed and crossing ability leave most defenders in his wake.

Naga made their mark early on in this game and never looked back. After just four minutes Sunday Okonkwo played a one-two with Chun Chom, burst into the box past three defenders, and finished with a deft flick over the onrushing goalkeeper for one of the best solo goals of the season so far. Then they went two-up after nine minutes. Meas Channa's corner was met firmly by the forehead of Yemi Oyewole at the near post to leave MND a mountain to climb.

However, MND fought back immediately, and after Nov Sokseila had outfoxed everyone on the right wing, his cross was despatched past Naga keeper Chaom Veasna by maurauding full-back Pheak Rady.

Naga regained their strangehold on the game, and Sun Sovannarith fired a close-range shot against the upright on the halftime whistle.

The game's intensity dropped off after the break, and the only chance of note came on the hour as Oyewole headed a centre by Soeung Monyroath against the crossbar. Naga's third goal came on 71 minutes, as Friday Nwakuna sent Okonkwo away, and the accomplished striker turned his marker inside out before finishing with another cool clipped shot around the goalkeeper to confirm the three points for his side.

Photos by Nick Sells (www.nicksellsphotography.com)

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