Build Bright United keeper Hem Simay (second left) collides with MND’s Om Thavarak, which dislocates his shoulder. SRENG MENG SRUN
Naga Corp’s Tong Sotho flashes a shot at goal past Khemara Keila’s Ly Sok Huor (left) during their Metfone C-League match Saturday at Olympic Stadium. SRENG MENG SRUN
Naga Corp 4 Khemara Keila 3
Super 4 certainties Naga Corp sliced through the steady drizzle to bring down a totally transformed Khemara Keila 4-3 in their Metfone C-League match-up at Olympic Stadium. League leaders Naga were 2-1 up at the half way stage Saturday, but had their boat well and truly rocked by Khemara early in the second period to stare at their first defeat of the season. It required a determined rearguard, two well struck goals and some goal line clearances for Naga to complete a thrilling turnaround.
Naga’s experienced coach Prak Sovannara admitted after the game that he had feared an end to their unbeaten record, but said he always had confidence in his players to stage a fightback.
“It was a bit scary, but we came through it,” he said. “We have to go all the way to the top. That is our target.
“Who we meet in the next phase is not important. To win the championship, we have to beat everyone.”
Khemara coach Solomon Demagudu expressed mixed emotions. “I am happy the side stayed disciplined and played free of serious mistakes unlike some of the previous games, yet I am slightly disappointed that we conceded those goals and could not build on our lead midway in the second half.
“I would rate this as the second best the team has done this season. I still feel we did better against Phnom Penh Crown the other day,” he added.
Midfielder Kop Isa notched his second goal of the season when he made good from a Teap Vatanak pass ten minutes into the game. Within minutes, Khemara drew level when hard-working Kuoch Sokumpheak carved out a strike past an unsure defence.
Sun Samprathna then netted a free kick from a deceptive angle, to have Naga sitting pretty at the break.
As the drizzle turned into showers, the tide began to turn Khemara’s way. Tall and gangly Suon Makara busted an offside trap to hoodwink Naga goalkeeper Mak Theara. Khemera were then gifted the lead when Joseph Oyewole handled a free kick in the area and Kuoch Sokumpheak sent the keeper the wrong way with his spotkick.
As urgency crept into the Naga equation, Tiet Chandarasokha found the equaliser before emphatically snatching victory through a superbly controlled header by Teab Vathanak.
MND 1 Build Bright United 2
A stinging volley by the ever reliable Nuth Sinoun just a minute from full time did the trick for Build Bright United, as the University backed side edged out National Defence Ministry 2-1 in Saturday’s second match.
Action was aplenty at both ends in the first half, although teams failed to register a score with the only incident of note being a spectacular Hem Simay save when a long range strike from MND’s Sin Dalin threatened to burst the net.
However, moments later the BBU stopper was left in agony after a collision with the Army’s Om Thavarak, which saw him stretchered off with a suspected shoulder dislocation.
BBU were forced onto the backfoot by a deft turn and clipped shot in the 54th minute by MND skipper Khim Borey, who had side-stepped two defenders on his solo run.
Momentum swung back and forth with alarming regularity, as both sets of midfielders kept the wingers on their toes.
BBU’s sustained goal search had to be moderated with extra vigil of the Army’s breakaways, but eventually they found their reward from a move triggered by a backheel by Nelson Oladiji. The string of passes finally reached Sophat Chansokunthina, who came up with a timely body feint and neat placement to draw his side level.
Nuth Sinuon’s dramatic winner from an inch-perfect cross by Oladiji won the tie for BBU, who are now assured of a place in the Super 4 post-season playoffs.