Naga Corp emerge 1-0 victors of a rain-soaked but absorbing encounter with the Army Saturday; Khemara Keila stutter to a 6-4 defeat of Chhma Khmao at Olympic Stadium missing key players
Khemara Keila’s Samuth Dalin (right) fires his team into the lead against Chhma Khmao Saturday at Olympic Stadium. Sreng Meng Srun
National Defence Ministry’s Sin Dalin (right) slides into a challenge on Naga Corp’s Samuel Oseika during their match Saturday. Sreng Meng Srun
Incessant heavy rain and a swirling wind almost spoiled Saturday’s Metfone C-League clash between National Defence Ministry (MND) and Naga Corp, but credit is due to both teams for enduring the conditions and giving the spectators their best efforts in the difficult circumstances.
The first half was a wash-out with water lying on the surface and the players sloshing around in the centre-circle. Coherent football was impossible and goalmouth activity virtually redundant.
With a break in the downpour just before halftime, Naga’s Teab Vathanak came closest to opening the score from two opportunities. His first, a delicate lob, was headed off the goal line by Rang Borin. MND keeper Samreth Seiha fingertipped the second chance onto the upright and Samuel Oseika spurned the follow-up with the goal at his mercy.
Samreth Seiha was again called into action to keep the Army goal intact four minutes before halftime.
Naga substitute Meas Channa burst through, and his powerful drive was miraculously pushed up and onto the crossbar by Cambodia’s leading goalkeeper.
Ten minutes into the second half and Samreth Seiha was finally undone by the pitch. Naga forward Joseph Oyewole’s cross to the far post was headed down by Chhim Sambo, with Seiha well-placed to catch it. However, the ball deflected wickedly off the soggy turf and slid under the stopper’s waiting hands to nestle in the net and give Naga a priceless lead.
Naga seized the initiative, with Sambo sending a 30-yard shot skidding wide moments later. Seiha then had to dive full length to push aside a shot on the turn from Teab Vathanak.
As the game entered its final phase, MND and their substitute striker Sin Dalin gave Naga a few anxious moments. Dalin whacked a drive into the midriff of Naga keeper Mak Theara, and then flashed a shot from 20 yards that had Theara scrambling across his goal line to watch it sail inches wide.
Referee Tuy Vichheka’s final whistle came as a relief to Naga, who’d done just enough to claim the three points and return to the top spot in the league standings. Meanwhile, the Army side will have to go back to the drawing board after suffering their fifth straight defeat.
Khemara 6 Chhma Khmao 4
With three players suspended and skipper Kuoch Sokumpheak sidelined with injury, Khemara Keila approached Saturday’s league game with bottom club Chhma Khmao with some trepidation. They need not have worried, however, as they quickly took control and dominated proceedings.
Samuth Dalin took advantage of a slip on the greasy surface by Chhma Khmao’s Pak Seiha to fire Khemara into the lead after just nine minutes. A minute later, and his Khemara teammate Suon Makara rattled his shot against the woodwork.
Then, in their first foray into the Khemara penalty area, Chhma Khmao caught everyone by surprise by drawing level. Meak Chhordarvuth’s shot was blocked by Khemara keeper Ly Sokheng, but Sok Kolamara followed up, and his diving header found the back of the net.
Four minutes later, Khemara scored again to put themselves back in the driving seat. Chhma Khmao keeper Chhay Rasmey Sovanara slid out to collect but mishandled, and Samut Dalin rolled the loose ball into the unguarded goal.
Within 40 seconds, Khemara’s Hou Sambo smashed the ball home after a by-line cross from Dalin and on the half hour, Suon Makara tapped in their fourth after keeper Chhay Rasmey Sovanara saved Sok Vanak’s shot but couldn’t hold onto it.
Five minutes later, Chhma Khmao replaced their goalkeeper, and new custodian Pen Socheat’s first task was to pick the ball out of the net when Ek Vannak’s diving header rounded off a neat centre from Hou Sambo.
A minute before the break, But Chanra nipped in before Khemara keeper Ly Sokheng to lob in Chhma Khmao’s second goal of the game.
Khemara increased their lead seven minutes after the interval, when Ek Vannak held off two challenges and slid his shot home.
Khemara’s seemingly insurmountable lead looked a bit shaky when Khemara keeper Ly Sokheng spooned a shot by Sok Kolamara, which was poked in by Meak Chhordaravuth following up on 73 minutes. Chhma Khmao pushed their opponents hard and scored again with three minutes remaining when Som Chandaravuth slotted home from the penalty spot after a foul on Meak Chhordaravuth.
In time added on, Som Chandaravuth saw red after a minor clash in the center circle to compound matters for the bottom club, who are destined for relegation in their first season in the top flight.