Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Naga, Crown wrestle out draw



Naga, Crown wrestle out draw

Naga, Crown wrestle out draw

Title chasers Naga Corp and Phnom Penh Crown played out a fiery 2-2 Wednesday

Photo by: Nick Sells (www.nicksellsphotography.com)
Naga Corp’s Meas Channa (front left) scores a free kick past the Phnom Penh Crown wall during their Metfone C-League clash Wednesday at Olympic Stadium.

Wednesday’s fixture at Olympic Stadium was exactly the type of match that will get the juices flowing of the Cambodian footballing public. It had a bit of everything thrown into the mix, as Naga Corp met Phnom Penh Crown in a battle of the casino-backed teams that took place both on and off the pitch. It was also the final game of the first half of the Metfone C-League campaign, and a win for Naga would’ve taken them back to the top of the table above current leaders BBU with Crown already in third spot.

It was Crown who started like a runaway train. Their highly-talented whizzkid Keo Sokngorn swept in the first goal after just two minutes, finishing off a sweet pass from Srey Veasna, before some fans had even taken their seats.

On ten minutes they were two up and coasting. Uche Prince Justine has great power in his shooting boots, but he can also craft a delicate finish when required and that’s exactly what he did to notch Crown’s second goal and his ninth of the season. Last season’s top scorer Justine currently sits a goal behind the league’s leading marksman Nuth Sinoun of Build Bright United in the race for the Golden Boot.

Naga, who have shown a workmanlike resilience this season rather than the free-flowing football that Crown often display, were not about to give up easily despite the two-goal deficit. Under coach Prak Sovannara, they are gelling well again, as they did when they won last season’s championship. On 14 minutes, they were back in the hunt.

Meas Channa is known for his tricky wing-play, but his dead-ball skills are just as effective. In true David Beckham style, he curled a 25-yard free kick up and over the defensive wall to beat the despairing dive of Peng Bunchhay in the Crown goal.

The rest of the first-half see-sawed from end to end in a pulsating display from both teams that kept the 5,000 spectators on the edge of their seats.

After the half-time breather, the breakneck action resumed, with Justine and Srey Veasna going close for Crown, and keeper Peng Bunchhay keeping out a Meas Channa shot on the turn with a point-blank stop. Neither side held back in their challenges, and referee Tuy Vichheka was a busy man, flashing yellow cards for fun and absorbing criticism from both teams.

Naga’s Joseph Oyewole’s long raking passes to his strikers were causing Crown all sorts of problems, and it from one of these that Naga drew level on 78 minutes, though the build-up to the goal was shrouded in controversy. Referee Vichheka was forty yards behind play when he blew for an alleged push on Teab Vatanak by Crown’s Tieng Tiny on the edge of the box, no doubt convinced by Vatanak’s piercing scream as he crumpled to the floor.

The striker picked himself up and after the referee had waved away the Crown protests, Vatanak repeated the exquisite skill shown by his teammate earlier in the game, with a beautifully flighted free-kick into the top left-hand corner of the Crown net.

It was Naga, back from the dead and determined to grab that top spot in the league standings, who pressed for the winner. Twice Jospeh Oyewole should’ve been more accurate with his shooting from the edge of the penalty area, but he rushed both shots and they flashed harmlessly over the crossbar.

The controversial leveller had angered Crown, and that came to the fore as referee Vichheka blew the final whistle. Players from both teams were involved in pushing and shoving as they left the pitch with Crown’s Sani Saidu uncontrollably incensed by what he saw as an unjust outcome of the match.

Naga, meanwhile, were satisfied with coach Prak Sovannara summing it up. “It was a great comeback from 2-0 down,” he expressed. “I’m so pleased with my team’s attitude, they never gave up and deserved a point in a very good game.”

Naga now sit a point behind leaders BBU, with Crown in third spot, as we go into a week-long break at the halfway point of the Metfone C-League campaign.

MOST VIEWED

  • Kingdom's Covid cluster cases jump to 194

    The Ministry of Health on February 25 confirmed 65 new cases of Covid-19, with 58 linked to the February 20 community transmission. The latest cluster cases include nine Vietnamese nationals, five Cambodians, one each from Korea, Singapore and Japan, with the rest being Chinese. This brings the total number

  • Locations shut, dozens more Covid-19 positive

    The Ministry of Health has closed 23 locations in connection with the February 20 community transmission of Covid-19 and summoned for testing anyone who had direct contact with affected people and places. The number of discovered related infections has risen to 76, including 39 women. In a press release,

  • Cambodia's Covid cluster cases rise to 137

    The Ministry of Health on February 24 recorded 40 more cases of Covid-19, with 38 linked to the February 20 community transmission. Of the 40, two are imported cases involving Chinese passengers. The 38 include two Vietnamese nationals and one Cambodian, with the rest being Chinese. This brings the total cases

  • Covid cluster raises alarm, health bodies urge vigilance

    The Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia have expressed great concern over the February 20 cluster transmission of Covid-19 in the community. Both entities appealed for vigilance and cooperation in curbing further spread of the virus. Ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine said

  • PM confirms third Covid-19 community transmission

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on February 20 announced the Kingdom's third outbreak of Covid-19 community transmission after 32 people tested positive in just over 10 hours. Addressing the public from his residence after an emergency meeting, Hun Sen said: "I dub it February 20 Community Event, in which 32 cases

  • AstraZeneca jabs touch down in Phnom Penh airport

    The first shipment of 324,000 doses of the AstraZeneca/SII vaccine which was provided through the Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) Facility was delivered to Phnom Penh International Airport on March 2. The rest of the COVAX provided vaccines will arrive in Cambodia at a later date.