A much-anticipated clash between newly promoted Visakha and last year’s beaten Metfone C-League finalists Ministry of National Defense features as Saturday’s early kick-off, and it is the preseason movement of North Korean players that adds an extra dimension to this matchup at Western Stadium.
Army thrived on their North Korean strikeforce during the 2017 league campaign that ended agonisingly in a penalty shootout loss to Boeung Ket.
Army’s entire North Korean component, including prolific striker Choe Myong-ho, then took a chance on the promoted Visakha for the 2018 season.
Army interestingly refilled their foreign quota with three South Koreans and a Japanese player, but the side have so far struggled to fire on all cylinders after five game weeks and lie eighth in the table with just six points.
But the Visakha gamble has so far paid off as the newcomers sit in third place on 10 points, just behind joint leaders NagaWorld and Boeung Ket, who both have 13 points.
Visakha coach Hok Sochetra played down the significance of the North Korean element, insisting his side was only focused on collecting three points.
“I agree that having played the whole season for Army, our foreign players know the opposition well, but I must also point out that the Army team knows these players well too. Army have signed some good overseas players so it will be a tough match,” Sochetra told The Post on the sidelines of the Hun Sen Cup quarterfinal draw on Thursday morning.
Boeung Ket face Svay Rieng
In Saturday’s other matches, Phnom Penh Crown will be keen to move up the table from their seventh position when they host Commissary of National Police, who are currently fourth.
Asia Euro United will be on their home pitch when they confront visitors from Siem Reap, Angkor Tiger.
Sunday’s three-match card is dominated by a high-profile contest at Olympic Stadium as league champions Boeung Ket and Hun Sen Cup holders Preah Khan Reach Svay Rieng clash at Olympic Stadium in the evening match.
With two defeats in five outings, the visitors from Svay Rieng will be eager to find top gear against a side that, like joint leaders NagaWorld, are unbeaten so far and have averaged three goals per game.
Before this standout clash, in-form Naga take on Siem Reap-based Soltilo Angkor, while league strugglers Electricite du Cambodge and Western Phnom Penh will be anxious to end their losing runs after five consecutive defeats each.
Visakha v Ministry of National Defense, Western Stadium (3pm)
Asia Euro United v Angkor Tiger, AEU Sports Park (3pm)
Phnom Penh Crown v Commissary of National Police, RSN Stadium (6pm)
Western Phnom Penh v Electricite du Cambodge, Western Stadium (3pm)
NagaWorld v Soltilo
Angkor, Olympic Stadium (3.30pm)
Boeung Ket v Preah Khan Reach Svay Svay Rieng, Olympic Stadium (6.30pm)