Naga Corp captain Om Thavarak (left) vies with Preah Khan Reach’s Khoun Laboravy during their Metfone C-League match at Olympic Stadium yesterday. Photo by: Sreng Meng Srun
Nigerian striker Julius Oiboh, who made a smashing debut last week, produced another act of individual brilliance to inspire Naga Corp to a gutsy 2-1 win over Hun Sen Cup winners Preah Khan Reach in their Metfone C-League clash yesterday at Olympic Stadium.
In a fast paced contest of fluctuating fortunes, Oiboh’s imposing presence made the crucial difference when he conjured a goal in the 39th minute from a midfield pass on the sheer weight of his positional sense and ball control.
Late in the game, substitute Prak Chanratana greeted a Esoh Omogba pass in a crowded box with a thumping finish to make matters worse for PKR.
Striker Sam El Nasa’s late introduction created a few sparks but collectively PKR were finding the going real tough against some astute Naga defending.
With the time shrinking fast, a desperate move on the left brought a tad of relief for the Military Police backed side when a Khoun Laboravy drive cannoned off the cross bar at the feet of an advancing Tum Saray, who made no mistake with a firm right footer. It was too little too late for last year’s league runners-up, who remain winless after three straight draws and this defeat.
The Oiboh strike proved to be a vital advantage for the former champions who managed to keep their own backline safe from a couple of predatorial runs by PKR goalmachine Laboravy. The 22-year-old saw his unparalled run of 10 straight games with his name on the scoresheet come to an end.
Carrying their slender lead into the second session, Naga stoutly defended their territory with goalkeeper Som Mina coming up with timely interceptions.
With a strangely subdued Laboravy well contained and Tum Saray wayward in some of his attempts, the struggle seemed uphill for PKR. A gem of a through pass that Prak Mony Odom conveyed to an advancing Laboravy had a goal written all over it during the first half, but the hitman failed to get a foot to the ball right in front of the goal.
Coming on top of last week’s 3-1 victory over National Defence Ministry, in which Oiboh slammed home all three, the victory signalled a definite shift in Naga’s confidence levels. Coach Prak Sovannara was all praise for the Nigerian striker, at the same time maintaining that the side had stuck to a plan and had shown remarkable resilience in defending a slight advantage.
An understandably disappointed coach Rith Dikar of PKR said the team had failed to make good on their chances and it was not a happy position to be in going into the sixth week of competition, but claimed they were resourceful enough to fight back.
MND scamper home past Police
In the earlier game yesterday, National Defence Ministry (MND) hung on tenaciously to a 21st minute goal by Phoung Soksana to edge out National Police Commissary.
A splendid cross from Ke Vannak set up an ideal header for Soksana who got the power and the direction right to fire the Army men to that early lead.
Responding to a 3-1 loss to Naga Corp last week, MND’s disciplined approach gave them a distinct edge through out the game. With three victories from their four matches, the Army took their tally to nine points to get up to second behind Phnom Penh Crown in the overall standings. After suffering their first reverse in four games, Police are on seven points.