After a near decade wait, NagaWorld reclaimed the Metfone C-League title with a match to spare after beating the hard chasing newcomers Visakha 2-1 in the penultimate game of the season on the back of Nigerian striker George Bisan’s invaluable brace on Sunday.
Naga’s path to glory was made that much easier to tread before they took to the pitch at Old Stadium for the evening encounter as news flashed in from Siem Reap that defending champions Boeung Ket, who were just two points behind, could only manage a 2-2 draw against a resilient Angkor Tiger.
That favourable twist meant that only an unthinkable reverse could spoil their title chances. But Naga were as aggressive up front as they were cautious at the back, deservedly picking up the precious three points that took their tally to 53 to Boeung Ket’s 49.
Naga’s final game against National Police next week will be a formality, though the champs would like to wind up their campaign on a winning note.
Boeung Ket and Visakha are confirmed second and third behind Naga.
The defending champs, pursuing an unprecedented hat-trick graciously posted on their widely followed Facebook page congratulations for Naga.
An ecstatic coach Meas Channa, who had the misfortune of being at the wrong end of defeats in both the league and Hun Sen Cup finals on his debut season after replacing Prak Sovannara, put the championship victory down to excellent team work and a fighting spirit generated by a high level of motivation.
Bisan in line for Golden Boot
Twice winners under the Nagacorp banner back in 2007 and 2009, the third triumph came as the jewel in the crown for coach Channa, who has the unique distinction of winning the title first as a player in 2009 and then now as a coach for his biggest success for the casino-backed side, which rebranded itself as NagaWorld more than three years ago.
Naga’s shrewd move to take Bisan away from last year’s Hun Sen Cup winners Preah Khan Reach Svay Rieng to reinforce their attack at the start of the new season proved a masterstroke, as the Nigerian not only delivered the double that saw them to the title but also lined him up for the Goden Boot award.
Scoring as early as the seventh minute, Bisan doubled Naga’s lead early in the second session. North Korean Cho Myong Ho turned in a spot kick to raise Visakha hopes of a push back but the first season side could make no further headway due largely to Sou Yaty’s presence in the Naga goal.
The Cambodia national side keeper made a timely switch from Boeung Ket to Naga midway through the season and in the bargain picked up his third league title in a row, A record that could be hard to beat, having been on the winning side with Boeung Ket in 2016 and 2017.
Meanwhile a record crowd of nearly 5,000 at Siem Reap’s Svay Thom Stadium watched local side Angkor Tigers put up a sterling show against Boeung Ket, holding the champs 2-2 after being twice in arrears.
Interest in most of the other fixtures over the weekend got buried under the anticipation surrounding the two title-defining matches.
Phnom Penh Crown trounced Western 6-0, forcing the bottom of the side to two dubious records. Western suffered the worst defeat of the season, a 10-1 defeat by Naga and then they also became the first team to suffer a winless streak of 20 games.
In other matches, Soltilo Angkor beat Electricite du Cambodge 4-0, Police drew 2-2 with Asia Europe United and home side Svay Rieng saw off Ministry of National Defense 1-0.