Metfone C-League strugglers Prek Pra Keila and Wat Phnom entertained fans with a 2-2 draw Saturday while Kirivong Sok Sen Chey handed National Defence Ministry a fourth straight loss
Prek Pra Keila’s Philip Ali (right, green) steers the ball past a sliding challenge from Wat Phnom’s Ry Phearoeun (below) during their rainsoaked Metfone C-League match Saturday at Olympic Stadium. Sreng Meng Srun
Kirivong Sok Sen Chey’s Julius Cukwumeka hits the ball over National Defence Ministry’s Samreth Seiha (unseen) to open the scoring in their Metfone C-League match Saturday at Olympic Stadium. Sreng Meng Srun
IT was a stormy afternoon at the Olympic Stadium Saturday, as Prek Pra Keila and Wat Phnom – two of the Metfone C-League’s relegation candidates – fought out a thoroughly entertaining draw. The first storm took place as the match kicked off, with driving rain and a strong wind in Prek Pra’s favour. The slippery conditions turned the opening twenty minutes into a comedy of errors, with constructive football an impossible task for both teams. Prek Pra took full advantage of the conditions on 27 minutes when Wat Phnom goalkeeper Por Bunchhoeurn came sliding out to collect a through ball, only to spill and leave Mat Hasan with the simple task of rolling his shot into an empty net.
On the half hour Prek Pra should’ve extended their lead, but new signing Philips Okoronwagu chose to send his attempted chip wide instead of laying a simple pass to Mat Hasan for a clear run at goal. Referee Khuon Virak failed to take account of the wet conditions with a three bookings that would have a big impact on the match in the second period.
Just as the half came to an end, Wat Phnom skipper Phlong Chanthou made a mess of his shot after sneaking in behind the Prek Pra defence.
Just six minutes after the restart, Prek Pra were reduced to ten men, with a second booking for Put Sotheara for a sliding challenge. Wat Phnom seized their numerical advantage to hit their opponents with a double blow in the space of five minutes.
On 56 minutes, Phlong Chanthou rose above a static Prek Pra defence to head home a well-worked corner kick routine between Phoeurn Saorum and Chhun Mesa.
They added a second goal to put their noses in front when Chanthou robbed Philip Ali on the edge of the box and slipped a pass to Ry Pheareun, who netted with a neat finish past Yok Ary in the Prek Pra goal. Ary then had to be alert to turn aside a drilled drive by Phoeurn Saorum as his team’s defending became ever more ragged.
Referee Virak handed Prek Pra a way back into the match when he dismissed Wat Phnom’s combative midfielder Peter Ejike on 72 minutes for an alleged dive, and Prek Pra repaid his generosity.
With nine minutes remaining, Sos Souhana’s wickedly curling free-kick was headed in by Philip Ali to spark jubilant scenes reminiscent of a World Cup final than a domestic dog-fight.
Prek Pra pressed hard for the winner, with Dennis Nwaizu letting fly with a screamer from 35 yards that rebounded off the cross-bar, while Mat Hasan was denied by a despairing dive from Wat Phnom keeper Por Bunchhoeurn.
The final storm of the afternoon was of controversy, and came in the third minute of additional time. Referee Khuon Virak took the advice of his assistant and brandished a second yellow card and a resultant red to Philip Ali for an off-the-ball incident. The Prek Pra players, coaching staff and supporters in the main stand vented their anger at the match officials as the referee quickly blew the final whistle and left the field under a deluge of insults.
Kirivong SSC 2 MND 1
With three defeats on the bounce, National Defence Ministry (MND) have suffered a crisis of confidence and could’ve done without meeting a buoyant Kirivong Sok Sen Chey outfit Saturday.
The match began in drizzling rain which became increasingly stronger as the game wore on, with the last fifteen minutes played in torrential downpour, with thunder and lightning overhead and the surface covered with an inch of water. Despite the conditions, both teams gave their all and produced a scintillating game to keep a smile on the faces of the supporters sheltering in the main stand.
Kirivong began strongly, with Julius Chukwumeka looking particularly dangerous through his probing runs and in combination with new arrival Tran Cong Danh, to exert pressure on the MND back-line. Army’s new recruit Om Thavarak repelled them almost single-handedly but picked up a caution for a late tackle on Lam Thanh Giang. His goalkeeper, Samreth Seiha, had to be on guard to keep out a couple of Chukwumeka long-range efforts before MND began to claw their way back.
Army substitute Thong Oudom had joined Thavarak to shore up their defence, but was on hand at the other end to fluff a great chance to take the lead, when he fired weakly into the hands of Kun Thnou in the Kirivong goal. Thnou was then sent scrambling across his line to fingertip wide a thirty-yard drive from Lorn Sotheara that appeared destined for the net.
The deadlock was finally broken two minutes before the interval. The assistant referee kept his flag down as Tran Cong Danh played in Julius Chukwumeka, and the striker who is in red-hot form, ignored the pleas for offside to lob the ball over Samreth Seiha’s head from thirty yards. The Army players and staff let referee Duong Socheat know of their displeasure as the teams left the field.
Goalkeeper Samreth Seiha came to MND’s rescue twice in the opening ten minutes of the second half, as Kirivong came out gunning for a second goal. He back-pedalled smartly and tipped over a viciously dipping Julius Chukwumeka free-kick, and then stopped a certain goal with his legs from point blank range as Seng Komsen followed up a Tran Cong Danh shot that struck the upright.
MND skipper Khim Borey provided a couple of telling long-range passes that put Kirivong on the back foot, and it was from one of them that Sin Dalin held off a defender’s challenge and smacked his shot between Kun Thnou and the inside post for a 57th minute leveller.
Chances came and went as the rain increased and the pitch became even slipperier. Sin Dalin and Ke Vannak messed up for MND, whilst Chukwumeka and Tran Cong Danh were equally guilty of squandering good chances.
Two minutes from full time, the pitch played a part in Kirivong’s late winner. Thong Oudom swung and missed his clearance leaving Tran Cong Danh with a clear run on goal. His low drive was half stopped by Samreth Seiha’s body but as the ball crawled towards the goal line, Julius Chukwumeka bundled it in despite Khek Khemarin’s attempt to clear.
It was Chukwumeka’s 13th goal of the season, and puts him ahead in the race for the Golden Boot award. For MND, it was their fourth defeat on the trot and allowed Kirivong to move above them into fifth place in the league standings.