Second-half goals from Mathew Osa and Song Chi-hun drove NagaWorld to a convincing 2-0 win over league leaders Boeung Ket at Old Stadium on Saturday afternoon ahead of the final stretch of four more games towards the coveted Metfone C League title.
The defending champions, coping with a few setbacks over the last couple of weeks including league defeat by the Army and a Cup loss to bitter rivals Naga, enjoyed greater possession in the first half and even saw Julius Oiboh find the side netting in a near miss.
But then the game took a turn in the second half.
Always threatening a strike with their well organised attacking formations, Naga grabbed the initiative just past the hour mark, when the ever consistent Mathew Osa, who hasn’t been off the scoresheet in his last few games, fired the two-time champs into the lead.
Despite Boeung Ket trying hard to get back on level terms, Naga kept control and Song scored in the 81st minute to stretch the lead and kill off Boeung Ket’s chances of a fightback.
The victory could not have come at a better time for Naga, who now head the standings at 44 points after 18 game weeks, two ahead of Boeung Ket, who despite beating Visakha two weeks ago are again under pressure from the debutants as they saw off Soltilo Angkor 2-1 to be just one point behind the defending champions.
Undeterred by Dzarma Bata’s 40th minute goal for Soltilo, Visakha produced a strong second half showing, with Ngoy Srin and Keo Sokhpheng hauling them over the line.
It was an anticlimax at the RSN Stadium, where Phnom Penh Crown folded with barely a whimper as the visiting Angkor Tiger FC were all over the six-time champions, hammering them 4-0.
Led by Joichiro’s brace, Thorn Seyha and Taing Sopheak got going for the Siem Reap side in a Crown capitulation unlike how the two sides had gone at each other’s throats in the Hun Sen Cup quarterfinals, which the Tiger won on penalties.
While Naga, Boeung Ket and Visakha are close to each other’s quarters, it should be an enthralling finish to come as they approach the four-game run-in with every goal scored or missed clearly impacting their title prospects.
Boeung Ket will be desperate to defend last year’s title, Naga are eager to post their third triumph with their previous one nearly 10 years ago and Visakha in with a chance of winning the title in their debut season.