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Referee stamps authority as Khemara overtake Naga

Referee stamps authority as Khemara overtake Naga


With the referee handing out cards like it was Christmas, Khemara Keila took a solid 2-0 win Saturday over Naga Corp to jump up to third in the CPL table.

Photo by: Nick Sells (www.nicksellsphotography.com)
Khemara Keila’s Keo Ravuth (centre) gets pulled back by Naga Corp’s Pok Chanthorn (right) in front of referee Toy Vicheka during their CPL match Saturday.

KHEMARA Keila leapfrogged over Naga Corp into third place in the Cambodian Premier League's penultimate week of the season with a straightforward two-goal success Saturday. Khemara have the hoodoo over Naga in meetings between the two teams and this encounter was no different, even though match referee Tuy Vichheka was determined to stamp his mark on proceedings.

Six bookings and two dismissals might infer that the game was fiery, but it was more a reflection of the referee's pedantic nature.

It was even stevens in the opening exchanges, as the two teams traded punches to little effect, with Yemi Oyewole for Naga and Nelson Oladiji for Khemara failing to convert the pick of the chances that came along.

However, a needlessly conceded corner undid Naga on 26 minutes. Arriving late and unmarked, Joel Omoraka headed powerfully past Naga stopper Chaom Veasna for the opening goal.

Naga responded positively with Oyewole and Sunday Okonkwo cracking open the Khemara backline, but without finding a way around goalkeeper Mak Theara.

Naga must've been encouraged when Khemara's hardman centre-half Omoraka saw red for an off-the-ball clash with Okonkwo on 41 minutes. But they didn't account for referee Tuy Vichheka.

On the stroke of halftime, the man in the middle appeared to deliberately even it up, with an undeserved straight red card to Naga's Friday Nwakuna for a mistimed tackle, to leave both teams a man light.

After the break, it was makeshift centre-half David Adeyinka who stole the limelight. As smallest player on the pitch, he filled in after Omoraka's dismissal, and was simply immaculate in snuffing out Naga's meagre efforts to equalise.

On 57 minutes, Adeyinka's teammate Oladiji killed off the game with an unstoppable drive from 20 yards that nearly burst the net, as he increased Khemara's lead and sank a dispirited Naga.

Photo by: Nick Sells (www.nicksellsphotography.com)
Build Bright United's Rim Bunheang (right) tussles with Preah Khan Reach's Prak Monyoudom Saturday.

BBU 1-3 Preah Khan Reach
Comfortable resting in second spot in the CPL, Preah Khan Reach (PKR) always had enough in the tank to extinquish Build Bright United's (BBU) mostly ineffectual opposition Saturday, in the student team's final game of the season.

PKR could even afford to field a youthful starting lineup, shorn of their African contingent who kept the bench warm. In teenager Prak Monyoudom, PKR have one of the country's brightest talents, and he was at the center of all that was good in an otherwise featureless first half of limited goalmouth action.

As the half petered out, an ankle-tap by BBU's Nhim Sovannara on Tum Saray as he burst into the penalty box gave Samel Nasa a penalty kick, which he converted with aplomb.

Three substitutions at the start of the second half gave BBU much-needed impetus, and they snatched the equaliser within a minute of the restart.
Hesitation in the PKR defence in dealing with a high ball into the box allowed Augustine Ogbemi to nip in and sweep the ball past keeper Ouk Mich.

It was Prak Monyoudom who sparked PKR out of their second-half lethargy, with surging runs down the right flank. Tum Saray failed by inches to convert one of Prak's low crosses, and then the star of the national U19 team weaved his way past three defenders, only to see his shot blocked by keeper Chhim Rotha's body.

The introduction of substitute Michael Ikenwa added muscle to Prak's youthful gusto, and it was Ikenwa who fed Tum Saray on 71 minutes. With a quick look up and little backlift, Tum curled an exquisite shot over the BBU keeper and into the top corner from the edge of the penalty area.

PKR continued to dominate, and added a third five minutes before the end when Prak sent Kao Kiry clear. Chhim Rotha left his area to kick thin air instead of the ball, and Kao Kiry rolled the ball into an empty net.

There was still time for Ouk Mich to replicate the Gordon Banks save from Pele in the 1970 Mexico World Cup, when the PKR keeper's acrobatics thwarted In Puthearith's downward header to deny BBU a late consolation.

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