Kicking off the third round of fixtures in the Metfone C-League on Friday, 2012 Champions Boeung Ket Angkor FC stated their intent for the long season ahead with a merciless thrashing of CMAC United FC at Phnom Penh’s National Olympic Stadium.
After a scrappy season opener which saw young strike sensation Chan Vathanaka, with the very last kick of the game, narrowly help his side overcome perennial mid-table side Asia Europe United 3-2, Boeung Ket returned to form last Saturday with a 6-0 rout of Western FC.
With Vathanaka named in the starting eleven for the first time this campaign, Prak Sovannara’s men continued their ascent by trouncing CMAC 7-0 on Friday evening. The inclusion of Vathanaka, who had plundered 37 goals in last season’s C-League, meant his Cambodian national squad teammate Khuon Laboravy was dropped to the bench where he was joined by goalkeeper Sou Yaty, who made way for veteran keeper Kim Makara.
Nigerian forward Samuel Gbenga Ajayi, named Man of the Match in last weekend’s victory over Western, retained his place in the starting eleven, as did compatriot Esoh Paul Omogba.
CMAC put their faith in imposing forward Timothy Chiemerie Okereke, scorer of four of his clubs’ seven goals in their opening fixtures, and who had netted a hat-trick to lead his side to a 5-1 win over AEU in their encounter last weekend.
However, Boeung Ket proved to be an entirely different animal, as the 2015 Toyota Mekong Club Championship finalists powered to a two goal lead by halftime thanks to goals from Omogba and Vathanaka.
After the break, Vathanaka picked up where he left off and guided home his second of the game from a right wing Tatsuta ‘Kazu’ Kazuki cross.
He completed his hat-trick just five minutes later, courtesy of a left-wing center from the unselfish Omogba, which the slight 23- year-old – muscling past two backtracking defenders – converted for Boeung Ket’s fourth. Kazu – as commanding and influential as ever in the middle of the park – then turned goalscorer with a fine finish from a seemingly impossible left-wing angle.
The Japanese virtuoso effortlessly dinked the ball beyond the unfortunate CMAC keeper who, having gone to ground, could only look on hopelessly as the ball floated agonizingly above him and into the back of the net.
Omogba’s tireless running was rewarded in the 74th minute as he notched up his second goal of the game, before a penalty was awarded to Boeung Ket soon after, although Gbenga’s tame effort was beaten away by CMAC custodian San Usarphea.
Despite the score line and with the game already won, there remained just enough time for a final goal from the 2013 and 2014 C-League runners-up.
Defender Hong Pheng kicked perhaps the game’s best goal deep into stoppage time – a long cross was sailed into the box from the corner as Pheng shaped up to deliver a thumping right footed strike on the volley and into the back of the net, capping perhaps the finest team performance in the C-League season thus far.
Naga Rock Crown
NagaWorld FC dealt injury stricken Phnom Penh Crown FC a blow in their quest for a third successive league title with a 2-1 win over the defending champions in Saturday evening’s Metfone C-League highlight at the National Olympic Stadium in Phnom Penh.
Lacking the quality of Cambodian duo Thierry Chantha Bin and Keo Sokpheng and the continued absence of South African wing wizard Shane Booysen, all unavailable through injury, has left Crown bare up front, even as new striker George Kelechi Stanley remains unable to open his account for his new side.
The game was given further spice due to the recent events between the sides, including a host of players making their exits from Crown in successive seasons only to be snapped up by the waiting embrace of Naga – despite protestations by Crown to the Football Federation of Cambodia. Crown had also captured the 2015 C-League championship with a defeat of Naga in the playoff final in December.
Inevitably, it was ex-Crown stalwart Kouch Sokumpheak, who had lifted the 2014 C-League trophy as Crown Captain, who came back to haunt his former employers hitting the first goal just 26 seconds into the game.
A right wing run from former Cambodian Tiger striker Privat Mbarga resulted in the Cameroonian delivering a dangerous ball into the box, Sokumpheak – arriving late – instinctively flicked a backheel beyond Keo Soksela in between the Crown sticks – something which was repeated hours later halfway across the world by Aaron Ramsey who scored the opener in the North London derby.
Mbarga turned the screw in the second half as he headed home Naga’s second before Sean Pissa pulled a goal back for Oriol Mohedano’s Crown. Ultimately, it was not to be enough as the back-to back champions went down to their first defeat of the season. Naga meanwhile, recorded their first win of the campaign having drawn their opener against Western FC and suffered defeat to Ministry of National Defense FC last weekend.
In Saturday’s other matchup at the National Olympic Stadium, Cambodian Tiger came from behind to hand luckless Asia Europe United FC their third straight defeat. Chan Dara had put AEU ahead from the penalty spot in just the third minute although Tomoki Muramatsu levelled proceeding in the 45th. Both sides were reduced to 10-men after AEU’s Dara and Tiger’s En Vichay were shown red cards. However, a brace from Tiger player/coach Kihara Masakazu was enough to give Tiger all three points. AEU, still without a win, will feel they deserved a share of the spoils in an even encounter.
Army Continue Streak
Ministry of National Defense FC maintained their 100 percent record at the expense of Western FC in Sunday’s Metfone C-League encounter between the mismatched sides. However, it was striker Choe Myong-ho, who stole the show, as Army’s North Korean weapon proved too powerful for the Western defence.
Dubbed the ‘Korean Ronaldo’ in his 2005 heydey, the year in which he was awarded AFC Youth Player of the Year, the wily 27-year old forward turned back the years on Sunday as he notched up four goals on his sides’ way to a 5-1 dismantling of lowly Western.
The opener was a deadly poacher’s finish as he made the most of a fumbled attempt at a catch from the Western keeper to bury the rebound home. With half-time looming, Reung Bunheing made it two for Army as he finished neatly in the box and celebrated with a bow and a flourish.
After the break, Myong-ho hit a second before Western’s Nigerian forward Matthew Osa, who found himself unmarked, provided a ray of light for the hosts by pulling a goal back. However, Myong-ho swiftly drew the blinds, and the crowd’s cheers, as he completed his hat-trick minutes later with a thumping header from Khek Khemrin’s right wing cross into the box and added a fourth and final goal to his tally a little under a minute later.
Elsewhere on Sunday, Preah Khan Svay Rieng FC were held to a 1-1 draw at the Svay Rieng Stadium by visiting National Police FC. Both goals came in the first-half, with Svay Rieng drawing first blood through defender Sareth Kriya in in the games 34th minute. Minutes later Ghanaian forward Michael Osei Tutu restored parity for the Police side.
There were to be no further goals as Svay Rieng relinquished their 100 percent win record to tail league leaders Boeung Ket Angkor FC and Ministry of National Defense FC in first and second place in the C-League standings respectively.