Sitting at the top of the Metfone C-League with three just matches remaining, NagaWorld take to the Olympic Stadium pitch on Saturday for their Hun Sen Cup semifinal with Ministry of National Defense with one eye on securing an unprecedented Cambodian league and cup double.
Beaten as Nagacorp by the now defunct Khemara Keila on penalties in the inaugural edition eleven years ago, Naga have been bridesmaids on no less than five occasions, only winning the trophy in 2013.
Naga needed a 5-3 penalty shootout after extra time failed to produce a goal against none other than Army.
Since then, Naga have been unable to again add their name to the roll of honour, though they came close last year, losing 3-0 to Preah Khan Reach Svay Rieng in the final.
“In my first season as coach, we missed the chance to lift the trophy. It was really disappointing. Since then we have had a few good runs, but this year it our best chance to achieve something every team dreams off – to pull off a league and cup double,” said NagaWorld coach Meas Channa.
“We now have the best chance in years to do this.”Naga’s consistent league form has been a source of inspiration for the local players, whose job it will be to carry the reputation of the side in this Cambodian-only event.
Army can boast of cup success in 2010 and 2016, when they edged out Preah Khan Reach 6-5 on penalties in the final to deprive the Svay Rieng side of their fifth triumph.
The second semifinal on Sunday at the same venue pits National Police and Angkor Tiger.
Until 2014, Police had nothing of value to show for their years of participation. But in a twist of events, they were pitted against outsiders Build Bright United, and the meeting of the two unlikely finalists ended with Police lifting the trophy.
Four years later they meet another smaller club, one only formed in 2015 and which has done well in such a short time, finishing third in the cup in the first season, then as Cambodian Tiger.
The Tigers are no pushovers. They have the means and the motivation to do well and they could well take advantage of a side sitting mid-table in the league, one that has previously shown weaknesses when dealing with well rounded outfits like the Tigers.