Table-topping Naga Corp stomped all over the bottom side Chhma Khmao with a 7-0 drubbing that saw their leading scorer Teab Vathanak pilfer a rare but merited hat trick of headers in yesterday’s Metfone C-League encounter at Olympic Stadium.
Experienced Naga coach Prak Sovannara put his bench to the test against the provincial minnows, with half his usual starting line up kept in the dugout. His confidence was rewarded seven-fold in what he described after the game as “a satisfying sight”.
“I wanted to give a few players some good playing time, and they have done well,” the coach said. “I thought [Teab] Vathanak took things a bit lightly in this game, and if he had really pressed on he could have scored a few more goals.”
Naga’s tenth victory this season maintained their unbeaten record and helped stretch the lead over rivals Phnom Penh Crown and Build Bright United to five points. A rather pedestrian first half showing saw Naga squeeze out just a single goal despite complete ownership of the ball and a lockdown of the Chhma Khmao half. Six strikes in the second half came as a welcome relief to the reigning champions, as they made the pitch seem like a hot tin roof for the Black Cats from Svey Rieng.
Chhma Khmao assistant coach Mey Sophath put yesterday’s thumping down to “total inexperience” on the part of his young team.
“We did whatever was possible,” he said. “We defended in numbers, but it’s hard to keep a side as sharp as Naga at bay. We will try and do our best in the next game.”
For a side that has lost all but one of their 14 matches to date, the drop to the lower rung is now inevitable.
With Chhma Khmao unwilling to commit players forward in the first half, Naga pitched their tent firmly in opposition territory. A succession of missed chances plagued the early stages, until Teab Vathanak broke the tedium midway through the half, tidily heading home a cross from Jonathan Onyeahiri.
Onyeahiri spanked a ball right into the upright straight after the restart, but within a minute made amends when his timely interception afforded a tap in. From there on out, the floodgates were left wide open.
Choeuk Sokhom headed in, underlining the significance of Naga’s aerial play before Vathanak’s mocking header made it three goals in the space of 11 minutes. Three more followed in regular intervals, including another precision effort from the bonce of Vathanak to complete his hat trick.
Defender Samuel Oseika strayed up the field to also get in on the act, with Kop Isa rubbing salt in the wounds of the Black Cats to round off the rout.
Meanwhile, all Chhma Khmao could muster were two distant free kicks and a half-hearted solo run into the Naga penalty by substitute But Chandh.