Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Naga Corp sink navy's Phuchoung Neak to reach final




Naga Corp sink navy's Phuchoung Neak to reach final

Naga Corp sink navy's Phuchoung Neak to reach final

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Naga Corp's Oum Chavrak (front right) celebrates with teammates Chhim Sambo (left) and Mohamadou Ousmanou after opening scoring Saturday in the Samdech Hun Sen Cup semifinal against Phuchoung Neak.

After nailbiting quarterfinal victory over 2007 Cup champions Ranger FC, Naga Corp recorded simple 2-0 semifinal win over Phuchoung Neak.

Naga Corp's Oum Chavrak (front right) celebrates with teammates Chhim Sambo (left) and Mohamadou Ousmanou after opening scoring Saturday in the Samdech Hun Sen Cup semifinal against Phuchoung Neak.

Naga Corp eased into their second Cup final in three years after edging out navy team Phuchoung Neak 2-0 in Saturday's second semifinal at Olympic Stadium.

Naga Corp took the early advantage in the 11th minute when Phou Sopy floated a cross over the heads of the navy defence to find Oum Chavrak in front of the sticks for an easy knock in.

The navy team were struggling to contain the rampant Naga advances. Phuchoung's Soth Sotheary was rightfully booked for cynically flooring Naga's Mohamadou Ousmanou just outside the box after a leggy run through the middle.

Navy launched their own attacks, attempting to expose gaps in the Naga backline. A decent half chance was carved out by Seng Kosen on the left, but his volley was aimed straight at the keeper.

And then a highlight for Star Sport's Nokia Football Crazy. You've heard of the bicycle kick, the banana kick and even the scorpion kick. Fans at the stadium however witnessed perhaps the world's first ever cockroach kick.

With Naga's Cheuk Sokhom rolling around on his back, the ball just a few yards out, legs flailing in the air, the loose ball was somehow flicked off his studs to nestle in the bottom right hand corner - a candidate for freakiest goal of the year and certainly in the category of outrageously lucky.

Undeterred, Phuchoung pushed deep into Naga territory, but stoic defending thwarted their advances.

Naga's pressing for a third saw Sun Sovanaridh gather the ball just outside the area before looking up to see the keeper marginally off his line as he then knocked a delightful chip on top of the bar.

With the interval looming, nice work on Phuchoung's left from Heng Sokly and Seng Kosen set up a chance between the posts for Sunday Silva, but the Nigerian striker could only scoop his effort over the bar.

Naga looked the fresher of the teams at the start of the second half. A cunning first-time cross from Neang Chenla flew straight through the defence but couldn't find a Naga shirt.

Phuchoung struck back with Sunday Silva on the right setting up Tith Dina, whose shot took a slight deflection that could have proved fatal if Naga keeper Choam Veasna hadn't stretched well to palm over the bar.

The navy team's Heng Sokly then broke through the back to catch a glimpse of goal but Naga defender Phou Sopy magnificently slid across to make the crucial block.

The crowd were subdued with the last few minutes somewhat anticlimatic, the Naga box flooded with bodies to deflect the handful of Phuchoung goal attempts.

And so the game ended at 2-0, with the smiling Naga Corp manager Michael Thachnan admitting the victory was "pretty easy".

"Our strategy was to score in the first half, which we did," said Thachnan. "In the second half we let it go a little bit due to some injuries ... and players on yellow cards."

"Our players really stuck to the system amd played the we set out to," he said.

The manager agreed that the second goal was lucky. "But we'll take it anytime!" He laughed.

Naga Corp progress through to the final to be played 2pm at Olympic stadium on March 28.

On facing defending champions Phnom Penh Crown in the final, Thachnan said: "[Phnom Penh Crown] looked very good, but we beat [them] before. There's no reason why we can't do it again."

Phuchoung will be back in action Saturday at 2pm at Olympic Stadium in the 3rd-place playoff against Preah Khan Reach with a 20 million riels (US$4861) cash prize for the winners.

Photos by Nick Sells (www.nicksellsphotography.com)

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