Nigerian Julius Oiboh turned himself into a one-man demolition squad on his debut for Naga Corp by plundering a hat-trick to spur the struggling former champions to a 3-1 victory over National Defence Ministry (MND) in the Metfone C-League tie at Olympic Stadium yesterday.
Naga coach Prak Sovannara was quick to acknowledge the merit of Oiboh’s splendid achievement, saying the Nigerian had indeed provided his team a much needed breathe of fresh air after a loss and an abrasive draw.
“It is a relief to break into winning ways,” said Sovannara after the side had coasted home.
The tall and gangly Oiboh, who has been waiting in the wings during the first two games of the season, finally made the starting line up yesterday and took just 11 minutes to fire in his first goal.
Sheer individual brilliance got him on to a stray ball as he worked his way deep into the 18-yard box. The MND backline hardly caught his scent as he deftly beat an offside trap and then goalkeeper Sou Yaty.
Not to be outshone by the Oiboh’s brilliance, the Armymen counterpunched almost immediately when Chhin Chhoeun produced the leveller.
Naga stopper Phorn Ratana produced a dream save off a powerful header from Ke Vannak after Pheak Rady has supplied a superb cross.
The stage was then set for the Nigerian hit man to employ similar barnstorming tactics to score two more sensational solo efforts. It was indeed a rare sight that a player could string together a hat trick on the back of three splendid solo runs.
“All three of his goals were brilliant, but the one with which he completed the hat trick was perhaps his best,” his coach told The Post.
PPCrown edge out Prek Pra 1-0
In yesterday’s late kickoff, defending champions Phnom Penh Crown huffed and puffed for all of 67 minutes before substitute Chan Chaya produced the only goal of the match to flatten a spirited Prek Pra Keila in their league encounter.
The narrow victory takes Crown to the top of the league table on goal difference with seven points from three games, ahead of Chhlam Samuth and National Police Commissary.
After their goal glut against lowly Rithy Sen in their last game, the expectation in the stands was for another high scoring affair. But that came to pass once Prek Pra got down to business of putting up a stout defence.
The barren first half was a tale of missed chances for Crown, as Kingsley Metu, Kuoch Sokhumpeak and Suong Virak all had a crack more than once at the goal to no avail. In fact the underdogs had the best chance to score when Nigerian Philip Ali thundered in unshackled only to drive the ball straight to Crown keeper Peng Bunchhay.
With Prek Pra Keila continuing to hold their own and thwarting several prominent moves, Crown’s Croatian coach Bojan Hodak made a crucial substitution just after the hour mark. By bringing on Chan Chaya for Suong Virak the equation on the pitch changed magically in their favour.
With his fresh legs taking him on a ghosted run deep inside the Prek Pra area, Chan Chaya was bang on target with his deft finish.
There were some notable counter-attacks by Prek Pra. Mat Hassan traded power for direction when ideally placed to shoot, while another Philip Ali attempt to win a straight battle with Peng Bunchhay failed to reap dividends.
At the end of the day, Prek Pra should be thankful to their goalkeeper York Ary for keeping the Crown forwards at bay on numerous occasions. The best of Ary could be seen in an acrobatic tip over the bar during the first half when a Suong Virak pile driver was heading towards the top corner.