Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Kirivong crisis still cuts deep

Kirivong crisis still cuts deep

Kirivong crisis still cuts deep

Kirivong Sok Sen Chey’s Julius Chukwumeka battles with Naga Corp captain Om Thavarak during their Cambodian Premeir League game Wednesday at Olympic Stadium.

Internal strife at Takeo-based CPL club Kirivong Sok Sen Chey is made worse Wednesday as they receive a 4-2 drubbing by top-four aspirants Naga Corp

THE return Wednesday of Kirivong Sok Sen Chey Chairman Leang Khon, who boycotted the club's last three Cambodian Premier League (CPL) matches, did little to inspire crisis-hit Kirivong.

After Kirivong recorded two consecutive 3-3 draws in their previous two games, the chairman returned to see his side lose 4-2 to a rejuvinated Naga Corp team in the CPL midweek fixture.

Naga, who lost their last match against BBU and needed the win to climb back into the top four, came out firing from the off.

The first 10 minutes saw Naga pressing deep into opposition territory, although failing to create any clear-cut chances. The absence of Kirivong's defensive stalwart Samuel Oseika due to suspension was obvious, as Naga attackers Yemi Oyewole, Pich Sina and Chen Chhum cut through the defence like a hot knife through butter.

Naga confined Kirivong to their own half, forcing them to give away the ball too easily and isolate their lone striker Julius Chukwumeka.

It was no surprise when the opener came for Naga inside 15 minutes, after a good interchange of passes between Sun Sovanrithy and Oyewole that kept the Kirivong makeshift defence napping,

Oyewole's exquisite touch put the ball on his favoured left foot, but before he could pull the trigger, Chen Chhun came from nowhere to slot the ball home.

Naga seemed inspired, and quickly bagged a second when an inch-perfect cross from Chen Chhum found Pich Sina, who exquisitely chipped the ball over Kirivong keeper Kem Makara.

The second half saw Kirivong fight back after Chairman Leang Khoun and his entourage had given the side a fiery pep talk at the break. It appeared to pay off, as Chukwuemeka pulled one back with a shot that marginally crossed the line but was ruled a goal by the assistant referee on the near side.

Kirivong were slowly clawing their way back into the game, but against the run of play Naga made it three with 15 minutes left on the clock, when Sun Sovanrithy's shot proved too much for Kem Makara. Two minutes later, Kem Chanburith made it four for Naga to silence the Kirivong supporters who has remained positive despite the scoreline

With barely two minutes left, Chukwumeka broke the offside trap to go one-on-one with onrushing Naga keeper Oum Chandara. Chukwumeka hit into the keeper, but collected the rebound to send it across for teammate Nhek Troueng to stylishly put away with a back heel for a final consolation.

Naga manager Lam Tiny said after the game: " We are very happy to win today, we used so many of our reserves in other to change our strategy and it paid off. We are now confident to go on to finish among the top four."

Photos by Nick Sells (www.nicksellsphotography.com)


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