National Defence Ministry suffer another blip on their mostly impeccable record with a 4-1 drubbing by Preah Khan Reach on Saturday; Naga Corp climb to top
Preah Khan Reach’s Khuonla Boravy (right) fires in his first and his team’s thrid goal against National Defence Ministry Saturday in their Metfone C-League match.
Naga Corp’s Teab Vatanak (right) and Wat Phnom’s Sun Men Huot vie for the ball during their game Saturday.
Photos by Nick Sells (www.nicksellsphotography.com)
THERE was a shock lying in store for the National Defence Ministry (MND) in their Metfone C-League meeting Saturday with military police opponents Preah Khan Reach (PKR). The Army team have begun the season like a runaway train, collecting the Hun Sen Cup en route, while PKR’s campaign has been marked by inconsistency and were without two of their foreign imports against their all-Cambodian opposition for the early kickoff.
With no love lost between the two teams, the game was marked by some meaty challenges early on before MND put their marker down with the opening goal on 13 minutes. A lofted Pheak Rady free kick was headed out only as far as Nov Soseila, and the tiny winger returned a fizzing ground shot through a crowd of legs and into the far corner of the net from 25 yards out.
Army goalkeeper Samreth Seiha had to be alert to keep out a bobbling cross-shot from his national teammate Prak Mony Oudom, as PKR pushed for the leveller. Soon after, Seiha came under pressure from two vicious in-swinging corners from Oudom. He held onto an Ande Apollo shot low at the foot of the post, but kept his best save until just before halftime. A neat interchange saw Sam El Nasa set up Tum Saray inside the penalty box, though he took too long to pull the trigger and Samreth Seiha pounced to block his drive with his body.
There was still time for Seiha to push over a 22-yard free kick from Prak Mony Oudom in time added on before the interval. However, an elbow injury forced Seiha’s replacement by Sou Yaty at the break.
PKR came out with guns blazing in the second period. Halftime substitute Khuon Laboravy was immediately in the thick of it, but after pouncing on a poor back pass and rounding Sou Yaty, his shot was blocked by Thong Oudom on the goal line. Prak Mony Oudom then saw his shot from close range blocked by Yaty’s diving body.
Ten minutes into the half, PKR’s pressure finally paid off. Oudom’s free kick across the face of goal had keeper Yaty in all sorts of problems, and his ineffective push out was poked home by centre-half Suon Thuon to bring his team level.
MND came back almost immediately when Khim Borey lashed a 30-yard free kick against the upright, with his teammates surprised by the ferocity of the shot and failing to follow up the loose ball. Um Koumpheak tried his luck from the same distance but Ouk Mich in the PKR goal was alert to the danger.
The outcome of the match changed in the 72nd minute. Army defender Khek Khemarin inexplicably raised his hand to the ball when a Prak Mony Oudom set piece bounced around in the box, and referee Thong Chankethya pointed to the spot. Khemarin saw red for his second bookable offence as Sam El Nasa calmly rolled the penalty kick into the opposite corner to Sou Yaty’s dive to put PKR in front.
The Army rallied, but Khim Borey flashed a shot high and wide, and Ouk Mich pulled off a great save to send another Borey effort spinning over the crossbar when it looked like the Army skipper would equalise.
PKR made use of their extra man, and Khuon Laboravy made sure of the points with a two-goal burst in a five-minute spell. With eight minutes remaining on the clock, 16-year-old substitute Chan Vathanaka broke clear of two challenges and laid on the perfect pass for Laboravy to fire home his follow-up after his first shot was headed away by Thong Oudom.
PKR then wrapped up their 4-1 success with a couple of minutes to go. Laboravy and Lay Raksmey combined along the right flank, and Laboravy was on hand to head Raksmey’s measured cross past Sou Yaty to add the final nail in the Army coffin.
Naga Corp 3 Wat Phnom 1
With Metfone C-League leaders BBU playing Sunday and Phnom Penh Crown returning from AFC President’s Cup action in Singapore, Naga had the chance to leapfrog both teams into pole position in the league standings if they could overcome struggling Wat Phnom at Olympic Stadium on Saturday.
To be frank, the result was never really in doubt, and Wat Phnom failed to register a single shot on target in the first half. It was only a matter of time before Naga opened the scoring.
Before the first goal arrived, Naga’s Joseph Oyewole and Teab Vatanak were denied by Wat Phnom keeper Sin Pisal, and when Oyewole did get the ball in the net with a superb volley from a Chin Chum corner, his celebrations were cut short by the raised flag of the assistant referee.
However, the flag stayed down on 24 minutes when Teab Vatanak’s left-footed centre found Chin Chum in yards of space. His well-directed header sailed into the net with the Wat Phnom’s defenders screaming for an offside decision that never came.
Just after the half hour, Oyewole’s pass sent Chin Chum goalside of the Wat Phnom defence and though Sin Pisal blocked his first attempt, Chum kept his head and his nerve to fire in the rebound for his and Naga’s second.
Much of the second half was a non-event as Naga kept the ball and monopolised possession. Soon after the restart, Chin Chum was holding his head in his hands after his curling 20-yard drive rebounded into play and denied him a hat trick. He was replaced soon after.
Wat Phnom sniffed a chance of a comeback on 73 minutes when they took advantage of Naga’s complacency and reduced the deficit. Skipper Phlong Chanthou powered a header into the top corner from Ry Phearoeun’s cross, and Wat Phnom suddenly perked up.
Five minutes from the end, Naga had their goalkeeper Pich Rovin Yothin to thank for his alertness to the danger posed, as Phlong Chanthou broke through the middle and Yothin’s brave dive at his feet snuffed out the chance.
In the third minute of time added on, Naga made sure of the points and their new position at the head of the league table when Tong Soto stabbed in their third and final goal, converting a cross on the break from Soeung Monyroath.