Frontrunners NagaWorld jumped a major hurdle in the run home for the Metfone C-League title after seeing off arch rivals Ministry of National Defense 2-0 at the Army Stadium on Saturday afternoon to tighten their grip on the title they last won in 2009.
The win kept them at the top of the standings on 50 points, five clear of Boeung Ket, who were to meet Electricite du Cambodge on Sunday evening.
Closing in on the leading pair were first-season sensations Visakha, who outplayed National Police 4-1 to stay in the hunt and hope for a few favourable stars in the next two rounds of matches left to make a mark on their debut.
After their bid for a unique domestic double was gutted two weeks ago by the Army in the Hun Sen Cup semi-finals, the onus was on coach Meas Channa, who was part of their previous triumph as a player, to inspire the team to reverse that result and guard the lead in the shadow of the winning post.
His confidence in his imports was well borne out quite early in the game when highly rated South Korean Song Chi-hun gave the side a third-minute lead.
From the off it was Naga who showed greater enterprise at both ends, maintaining an aggressive posture while keeping a watchful eye for any sudden breakaways.
Within 30 minutes of that opening strike the irrepressible George Bisan stamped his mark by doubling the lead to put Army under immense pressure.
Though there were some remarkable attempts by Army to peg Naga back, the casino-backed side held their lines well and were in no mood to see their stack of winning chips melt away.
The victory in what was clearly a grudge game and the retention of the lead at the top over the hard-chasing Boeung Ket could combine well to boost Naga’s self-assurance as they get closer to their third title, the first under the NagaWorld name with the two previous ones under the name of Nagacorp.
In another match that had no bearing on the top half of the field, Preah Khan Svay Rieng proved not so hospitable hosts as they powered their way to a 5-2 win over visitors from Siem Reap Soltilo Angkor at Svay Rieng Stadium.