Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - PKR feel joy of six Saturday; Naga have a five-star Sunday

PKR feel joy of six Saturday; Naga have a five-star Sunday

PKR feel joy of six Saturday; Naga have a five-star Sunday

Preah Khan Reach teach league newcomers Chhma Khmao a lesson with a 6-0 demolition Saturday in the Metfone C-League; Naga Corp and MND win Sunday

Khemara Keila captain Kuoch Sokumpheak (right) skips over a sliding tackle from National Defence Ministry’s Thong Oudom during their Metfone C-League match Sunday at Olympic Stadium.

THOUGH it didn’t live up to the quality of the league’s opening game between Phnom Penh Crown and Wat Phnom, Preah Khan Reach (PKR) still showed the gulf in class between one of the established Metfone C-League teams and the newly promoted hopefuls Chhma Khmao from Svay Rieng in a 6-0 rout at Olympic Stadium Saturday. With only one foreign import on show it was virtually an all-Cambodian affair, and with PKR’s newly-acquired defender Anthony Nzekwest limping off with a hamstring pull after 20 minutes, it left two of the Kingdom’s national players, past and present, to take the limelight.

Top marks should go to PKR’s Khuon Laboravy who registered a hat trick and has the best left foot in the country, whilst Sam El Nasa is no slouch despite his advancing years and he was on hand to net a couple of goals as the provincial team got their first taste of how hard life can be in the top-flight of Cambodian football.

Chhma Khmao gave a good account of themselves for much of the first half, though PKR should’ve made more of half a dozen chances they spurned. A double miss on 17 minutes involved Laboravy heading against the cross-bar with Sam El Nasa turning the rebound against the upright.

As the game entered stoppage time at the end of the first period, Chhma Khmao failed to clear their lines and Laboravy used his sweet left foot to good effect to open the scoring with a well-struck drive from fifteen yards.

Laboravy was again on target just five minutes after the restart. A maurauding run down the right flank by Lay Raksmey, a feature of the second half, saw Sam El Nasa step over the cross for Laboravy to rifle it into the net.

El Nasa was on the scoresheet on 69 minutes with a simple tap-in after Prak Monyoudom’s low shot had been palmed aside by goalkeeper Pen Socheat. Raksmey again provided the centre for Laboravy to claim his hat trick with a well-directed header on 77 minutes.

Eager to join the goal feast, a strike for PKR’s midfield destroyer San Narith is practically a collector’s item, as he toe-poked under Pen Socheat after a neat one-two with Prak Monyoudom, five minutes later. Sam El Nasa rounded off the 6-nil victory a few minutes before the end with another simple tap-in, this time after Laboravy had stepped over a cross from Kao Kiri.
Naga Corp 5 Prek Pra Keila 0

Preah Khan Reach’s Sok Chanrasmey (left) shields the ball from Chhma Khmao’s Pao Phiarith during their game Saturday.

Naga Corp’s Joseph Oyewoye (right) takes on Prek Pra Keila players during their Metfone C-League match Sunday at Olympic Stadium.

2009 league champions Naga Corp began their title defence with a 5-0 thumping of Metfone C-League newcomers Prek Pra Keila Sunday. For their first game under new coach Prak Sovannara, Naga’s experienced line-up included new additions Mak Theara from Khemara Keila and Kirivong Sok Sen Chey’s Samuel Oseika, which was simply too hot to handle for the league debutants.

Striker Teab Vatanak had fluffed two very presentable opportunities before a couple of goals in as many minutes gave Naga a clear advantage. Joseph Oyewole, the game’s outstanding player by a country-mile, set up Chin Chom on 18 minutes, who’s fierce drive was kept out by goalkeeper Yok Ary, only for Prek Pra skipper Mat Phalla to volley past his own custodian.

Two minutes later and the game was effectively over with Naga doubling their lead. Chim Sambo’s good work on the left wing yielded a goal for Teab Vatanak, as the mishit shot wrong-footed Yok Ary to nestle in the corner.

The one-way traffic continued with Vatanak once again guilty of squandering further chances to increase his team’s dominance. Prek Pra were offered a brief glimpse of hope just before half time, when recent import Philip Ali’s close range effort was blocked by Mak Theara in their first real threat on Naga’s goal.

The league champions extinquished any hopes of a comeback three minutes before the interval with a third. Vatanak took a tumble as keeper Yok Ary challenged and Sun Sovanrithy converted the resultant penalty kick with ease.

The second half was not a classic, with Naga in their comfort zone and Prek Pra unable to gain a foothold. Indeed, Naga furthered their lead just seven minutes in. Chin Chom’s left-wing centre fell to the feet of Joseph Oyewole at the far post, and he rolled it in for a well deserved goal. The Nigerian was denied his second a few minutes later, when his header struck the upright.

With ten minutes left on the clock, Prek Pra’s keeper Yok Ary hurt his hand making a double save from Vatanak and Jonathan Onyeahiri, and was forced to swap shirts with full-back Khin Voeun as the team had already used up their quota of substitutes. Five minutes later, Yok Ary showed why his hand-eye coordination is better with a clumsy tackle on Joseph Oyewole. Sun Sovanrithy duly despatched the spotkick for his second and Naga’s fifth. So, an easy day at the office for the current champions.

MND 2 Khemara Keila 1
With their success in winning the recent Samdech Hun Sen Cup competition, confidence was high in the National Defence Ministry (MND) camp despite a tough opening Metfone C-League encounter against one of their historic foes, Khemara Keila. With a new coach and a host of new faces, Khemara were also looking to start their season with a flourish and Hou Sambo’s deflected shot early on nearly gave them the lead.

Ten minutes into this evenly-contested match and MND got their noses in front. Chhin Chhouern’s perfectly weighted cross behind the Khemara defence found Suong Virak in space, and he made no mistake to send the Army team into raptures.

Ten minutes later and Virak repaid the kindness by supplying Chhin Chhouern with a short pass, and the tiny winger drove a low shot past Khemara keeper Ly Sok Heng from the edge of the penalty area.

The Army were two goals to the good and Khemara were shell-shocked, so much so that their normally mild-mannered skipper Kuoch Sokumpheak was yellow-carded for a high lunge.

On the half hour, Sophal Oudom gave Khemara the lifeline they were searching for with a well-placed drive that beat Samreth Seiha’s desperate dive, after good approach work by Hou Sambo. Khemara were back in the game.

With the second half just a minute old, Khemara should’ve levelled the scoreline. Ek Vannak took Kuoch Sokumpheak’s pass around Samreth Seiha, but as he drew his foot to slot the ball into the empty net, defender Rang Borin made a last-ditch tackle that ultimately guaranteed his team the points. Vannak was left inconsolable.

The rest of the half was played out in midfield with few goalmouth opportunities, though a 25-yard drive from MND skipper Khim Borey was destined for the top corner until Ly Sok Heng intervened with a finger-tip save.

Photos by Nick Sells (www.nicksellsphotography.com)


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