Kirivong ’s Sok Va (right) trips up Naga Corp’s Kop Isa during their Metfone C-League match yesterday at Olympic Stadium. Photo by: Sreng Meng Srun
Naga Corp came out with all guns blazing yesterday to inflict a 7-2 pasting on Kirivong Sok Sen Chey in their Metfone C-League game at Olympic Stadium.
Led by goal-scoring machine Julius Oiboh and his well-crafted brace, the casino-backed side notched their fifth win in a row to scale the top of the leader board with 16 points, two clear of arch-rivals Phnom Penh Crown, who were held to a thrilling 4-4 draw by Kirivong at the weekend.
“I was confident we would do well in this game, but I was really surprised by the scoreline,” Naga coach Prak Sovanara said modestly of what, on sheer statistical terms, was a rousing win for the 2009 league champions.
The coach hailed another prolific contribution from Oiboh, who has netted 12 times this season, spread over his five starts, including three hat-tricks. “He is making a huge difference,” Prak Sovannara said.
With a stroke of fortune on his side, Oiboh may well have grafted another coveted triple, coming close on no fewer than three occasions to score his third yesterday.
“I am happy to be among goals. It is going well for the team,” the Nigerian striker told the Post after the match, as he nursed a painful right foot that was stamped on by one of the Kiri-vong players during a tense battle for the ball towards the end.
It was not that Kirivong played below their potential but quite simply that Naga upped the ante and touched their fiery best.
A tennis-style lob beyond Kirivong goalkeeper Kun Thnou’s reach by Chhim Sambo set Naga on course after 20 minutes. Kirivong’s Bryan Edem then made amends for his costly own goal against Crown three days ago by blasting home the equaliser.
Julius Oiboh proved yet again that he is a solo specialist, with the go-ahead strike minutes later.
Naga had brought on Meas Channa as an early substitute, and his impact was evident all over as he pushed Naga further ahead after the restart with a goal to remember.
A brilliant header by Teab Vathanak off a measured cross from Chin Chun allowed Naga even larger scope to operate, while Oiboh notched his second, another memorable individual effort, in the 82nd minute. Meas Channa, back from doing a stint with the U19 national team coaching staff, found the net from distance with time running, and it was left to Chin Chun to drive the last nail into Kirivong’s proverbial coffin in stoppage time.
For most of the game, Kirivong frontliner In Vichheka was well reined in by the Naga back four. But despite limited opportunities, he made one count on 85 minutes by earning a penalty after he was brought down in the box by Chhim Sambo.
Nelson Oladiji stepped in to convert the resulting penalty, but the two Kirivong goals only served to soften a mighty blow.
The talking point after the match surrounded Naga’s resurgence and a noticeable improvement in its goal-scoring progression. The last three games alone have seen Naga amass 25 goals.
As the side’s assistant coach, Solomon Demagudu, put it: “The more goals we get, the better it raises our level of confidence.”
Naga fans, meanwhile, were beginning to take their striker Oiboh for granted. “It’s no longer a surprise if he scores. It’s a shock if he doesn’t,” one supporter said.