Chhlam Samuth’s Ek Sovannara (left) tussles with Naga Corp’s Julius Oiboh during their match yesterday. Oiboh scored his 25th goal of the season to equal the total of last year’s Golden Boot winner Julius Oniniwu of Kirivong with three games still left to play. Photo by: Sreng Meng Srun
A hat-trick by hard working midfielder Chin Chum was the high point in Naga Corp’s fluent 5-0 victory over relegation-hit Chhlam Samuth in their Metfone C-League tie at Olympic Stadium yesterday.
The 2009 champions, who are fiercely pursuing table toppers Phnom Penh Crown, were never off the boil as they took absolute control of the pitch from the start, punishing at regular intervals the Sea Sharks midfield mess ups and backline blunders.
It has almost become a customary sight for livewire Naga striker Julius Oiboh to open the floodgates, and yet again the lanky Nigerian did the trick with his intrepid ball skills. Surprisingly, it took Naga nearly 40 minutes of probing waves to secure the lead, Oiboh expertly shaking off his markers and darting freely into the box before working his way even further to reduce the finish to a mere push in.
The second Naga goal was the direct offshoot of neat combination play by Sam Minar, who found Julius as the second link before the ball came back to Chin Chum for the final touch. It marked the beginning of a spirited spell by the nippy midfielder who went on to complete a deserving treble after Chhlam Samuth defender San Thydeth had cleared the ball into his own net in sheer haste.
The middle pin of Chin Chum’s three strikes was a double-footed volley off a cross from Teab Vatanak, and the third was a perfect header off a measured cross from Meas Channa.
The ball was rolling so well for Naga that coach Prak Sovanara had no hesitation in resting Oiboh halfway through the second session. There were hardly any threatening moves from the Sea Sharks, although Sanny Douda and Paul Olabode showed plenty of enterprise.
Victory brings Naga Corp that much closer to what promises to be a thrilling title race, with defeat was a clear setback for newly promoted Chhlam Samuth, who can only redeem themselves if they manage to win their survival battle against Prek Pra Keila.
Crown give the Army case of deja vu
Striker Kouch Sokumpheak provided the solitary match winner once again for Phnom Penh Crown as the title holders prevailed 1-0 over a fighting Ministry of National Defence team to tighten their grip on the Metfone C-League championship.
In a moment of aberration in the MND backline, the unmarked Crown hitman found easy access into the box and knocked the ball past a hapless Sou Yaty in goal. Sokumpheak had netted the only goal in the teams’ previous meeting during the first half of the season.
Yesterday, despite the Army forward line creating significant pressure to bear on the Crown defence in several coordinated moves, an equaliser remained elusive.
The win moved Crown another step closer to retaining their league title with only Preah Khan Reach and Naga left standing in their way.