Photo by: NICK SELLS (www.nicksellsphotography.com)
Ministry of National Defence substitute striker Phuong Soksana (left) completes his hat trick late into stoppage time Sunday as Rithi Sen keeper Oum Veasna (right, front) slumps to the ground.
Ministry of National Defence (MND) Sunday made sure there was no repeat of their lethargic performance in the last round, when they only managed to beat Koh Kong by means of a penalty shoot-out, with a 9-1 demolition of plucky underdogs Rithi Sen, who were urged on by a massive following from their Kampong Chhnang base.
MND were at full strength and with their two wingers, Nov Soseila and Suong Virak, terrorising the defence it was only a matter of time before they broke down the rearguard resistance of the only provincial side left in the competition.
However, before MND opened the scoring Rithi Sen were denied the lead by a contentious decision by the match officials. In the 25th minute, a cross-cum-shot from out on the right wing by Set Kammel sailed over the head of MND keeper Samreth Seiha and into the top corner of the net, only for the assistant referee to rule out the effort due to the presence of two Rithi Sen players in the penalty area. The game was held up for a few minutes after Rithi Sen ‘s experienced goalkeeper Oum Veasna raced the full length of the pitch to remonstrate with the officials, all to no avail.
Brushing aside the controversy, MND peppered their opponent’s goal with shots which Oum Veasna proved equal to until finally succumbing in the last six minutes of the half. During this time, Khim Borey opened the scoring with a close range header, and then Thong Oudom ventured forward from defence to be rewarded with two goals; a powerful header and a tap-in that looked suspiciously offside.
Two substitutions at the start of the second half worked wonders for MND, with both of the introduced players getting second-half hat tricks. Phuong Soksana and Sin Dalin found acres of space as the Rithi Sen dream of yet another cup upset well and truly faded away.
Sin Dalin netted his hat trick in the space of five frantic minutes near the end, while Phuong Soksana had to wait until injury time to claim the third of his treble. Rithi Sen did manage a wonderful solo goal from Ky Rohan on 56 minutes, but it was too little too late as MND progressed to the semifinals in style.
Khemara Keila 0 PKR 3
In the best match-up of the quarterfinal draw, these two big guns of the Cambodian Premier League proved more or less equal to each other, with a solitary Samel Nasa goal for Preah Khan Reach (PKR) on 14 minutes all that separated the sides at the interval.
The second half couldn’t have been more different. Khemara took the game to PKR in search of the equaliser, but a mistake by their defender Soun Makara sealed the team’s fate. On 55 minutes, he dallied on the ball and was robbed by PKR’s Sok Raksmey, who led the defender a merry dance before slotting under the goalkeeper for their second, just three minutes after entering the game as a substitute.
With their Cup hopes seemingly dashed, Khemara imploded. Sok Pheng, who has returned to the game after a year on the touchlines, will be seeing more bench time as he was sent off for a second bookable late challenge on 57 minutes. Their skipper Kuoch Sokumpheak was lucky to only get a yellow card for a two-footed lunge, before Chhun Kirivatharo received a straight red for kicking an opponent. They should have also lost goalkeeper Mak Theara when he fly-hacked Prak Monyoudom, but the referee and his assistant seemed to be the only two who didn’t see the incident.
PKR wrapped up the game a minute from time from the penalty spot. The referee managed to see another Mak Theara infringement, he was booked and then dived the wrong way as Samel Nasa’s spot-kick sailed in. PKR now meet the Ministry of National Defence in the semifinals next Saturday.