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Naga end Svay Rieng’s ‘Invincibles’ dream

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Preah Khan Reach Svay Rieng striker Privat takes a shot against NagaWorld during the sides' first meeting this season. CNCC

Naga end Svay Rieng’s ‘Invincibles’ dream

NagaWorld came out 2-1 winners to end Preah Khan Reach Svay Rieng’s dream of a historic unbeaten season on Friday in their final match of the campaign, with a questionable penalty decision swinging the momentum in favour of the casino-backed side.

Depite being denied the chance to become Cambodia’s first ever “Invincibles”, newly crowned Metfone C-League champions Svay Rieng can still make history on Wednesday evening by winning the Hun Sen Cup to secure an unprecedented domestic double.

Svay Rieng went in at half-time 1-0 up through a 35-yard free-kick into the bottom left-hand corner from Cambodia international defender Soeuy Visal in the 18th minute.

However, Naga equalised on 69 minutes through Rwandan forward Atuheire Kipson after the referee pointed to the spot for handball as defender Jonny Campbell cleared a cross, though replays suggested the ball may have hit the American’s hip.

Esoh Paul Omogba then broke Svay Rieng hearts with the winner eight minutes later, heading in a smart left-wing cross.

There was further agony for Campbell as the centre-back was sent off after being shown a second yellow card right at the end.

Svay Rieng will have little time to get over their disappointment as they go in search of the double, with the Hun Sen Cup final against Boeung Ket at 6pm on Wednesday evening at Phnom Penh Crown’s Smart RSN Stadium.

Svay Rieng, Cambodia’s most successful cup side, are looking to win the Hun Sen Cup for a fifth time.

“The players have been brilliant all season, and if they work hard and stick to the game plan, we are confident we can win what is bound to be a difficult game,” said Svay Rieng general manger Christopher Grant ahead of Wednesday’s cup final with the 2017 league champs.

Svay Rieng dominated the first half at Phnom Penh’s Old Stadium, with Cambodia star Prak Mony Oudom pulling the strings down the right, Cameroonian hotshot Privat Mbarga looking dangerous up front and Japan’s Deisuke Kobayashi controlling midfield.

It was in the 18th minute when the newly crowned champions went 1-0 up through Visal’s beautifully taken long-range free-kick.

However, Naga came powering out of the blocks in the second half, pushing Svay Rieng onto the back foot, with Naga’s wastefulness and keeper Aing Sovanarath to thank for keeping the provincial side’s slender lead.

With their passionate “Blue Swords” fanbase banging drums to spur on their team, Svay Rieng soaked up Naga pressure and created openings of their own, before the game turned halfway into the second half.

Svay Rieng finished the 2019 Metfone C-League season top with 65 points from 26 games, ahead of Visakha FC on 58 points. NagaWorld finished third on 55 points, ahead of Boeung Ket in fourth, Angkor Tiger FC in fifth and Phnom Penh Crown in sixth.

At the other end of the table, Academy finished bottom with four points, with Kampong Cham Province finishing second bottom with six points.

Additional reporting by Jake Toto


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