NAGA Corp booked their place in the quarterfinals of the 2010 Samdech Hun Sen Cup on Sunday after blowing away a stubborn Chhma Khmao 6-2 at Olympic Stadium.
The reigning Cambodian Premier League (CPL) champions were given a scare, however, from the Svay Rieng outfit, who showed they won’t be a push-over when the CPL starts proper. Chhma Khmao opened the scoring on the half-hour mark as Spark FC transfer Meak Chhordaravuth followed several deflections inside the box.
The goal set up a wild three-minute period, as Sun Sovannarith – curiously playing up front despite his performances as left back in the national team – connected off a sublime cross from Meas Channa to equalise one minute later.
On the very next possession, the referee awarded a penalty as Svay Rieng keeper Pen Socheat scythed down Sun Sovannarith in the box. However, the stopper went from villain to hero, deflecting the penalty to send the teams in even at the break.
Naga took control eight minutes into the second period through an opportune broken play goal in the box by Teab Vatanak. As it looked as if the heavyweights would pull away, Chhma Khmao equalised in the 71st minute via a stunning free kick by Oung Dara from 25 metres out, sending the provincial side into a frenzy.
However, the game quickly elapsed into a rout as Naga Corp scored four goals in the last 15 minutes, including two by Teab Vatanak to complete his hat trick.
Chhma Khmao assistant coach Sok Voantha was proud of his squad despite the loss. “My players could score two goals against Naga Corp, one of the best teams in Cambodia,” he remarked. “Now we can focus on the upcoming Cambodian Premier League.”
Naga coach Nov Vuthy paid tribute to his beaten opponents. “We are so surprised with the performance of Chhma Khmao,” he said. “I hope [my team] learned from this experience and do their best in the quarterfinals.”
Naga next face CPL rivals Build Bright United (BBU), who earlier Sunday raced to a 6-0 lead against Prey Veng in the first half, before putting on the breaks in the second to end 7-0 victors. Captain Prum Puthsethy scored a hat trick to maintain his lead in the golden boot competition, and teammate Oum Chandara bagged a brace.
Coach Meas Sam Oeun said the win came at a cost, however, as Cambodian international midfielder Chhun Sothearath sustained a leg injury. “It’s a big problem for us if the injury doesn’t heal,” he said. “I hope he’ll be OK for our next game in two weeks.” Prey Veng’s keeper Rim Sovanna had a nightmare game, continually struggling with BBU’s power and failing to catch anything fired his way.