Cambodian C-League Round 8: Vathanaka stars as Boeung Ket keep pressure on leaders Army

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led to a sensational 3-1 comeback win over rivals Preah Khan Svay Rieng FC, scoring three late strikes in their Metfone clash at the National Olympic Stadium on Saturday evening.

A scrappy first-half saw Sou Yaty the busier of the keepers as Svay Rieng forward Atuheire Kipson looked dangerous, testing Yaty from distance in quick succession midway through the half. The Rwandan came closest soon after when teammate Samoeun Pidor cut inside the box and delivered a teasing ball into the six-yard box. Kipson, with his back to goal, was unfortunate after his attempt at a flick saw the ball strike the post and safely on into the grateful hands of Yaty.

The tempo was upped after the second-half restart with Esoh Paul Omogba of Boeung Ket pulling strings from midfield in the hope of breaking the deadlock. However, with Boeung Ket in the ascendency, Sovannara’s men took their eyes off the ball at the back. Kipson, seizing on his Svay Rieng teammates throughball, rounded the grounded Yaty to slot the games opener in the 51st minute of the game.

After going behind, Boeung Ket continued to press high up the pitch, with Vathanaka coming closest with a free-kick just outside the box. However, the youngster made up for his wayward shooting with a contender for Goal of the season in the games 85th minute. Receiving a pinpoint left-wing cross from Yuya Wada, Vathanaka whipped an unstoppable left-footed volley which Svay Rieng keeper Am Sovannarath could do nothing to stop – the ball slamming into the far post for the equaliser.

Back on level terms, Omogba then produced another moment of magic, which has been a feature of his time in the colours of Boeung Ket. The Nigerian cleaved open the Svay Rieng defence with his ball into the box for Vathanaka to slot home his – and Boeung Ket’s – second. The 22-year old Kampot-native then duly put the result beyond doubt, completing his hat-trick in stoppage time after a fine layoff from the returning from injury Samuel Gbenga Ajayi.

The win helps Boeung Ket keep the pressure on Ministry of National Defense FC at the top of the standings, while adding a second consecutive defeat to the record of Svay Rieng after their loss to Phnom Penh Crown in their previous league outing .

Earlier that afternoon, and also at the National Olympic Stadium, Cambodian Tiger had continued their assault on the top four with a 6-0 thrashing of hapless Western FC. A 14th minute goal from Yoshihara Masato opened the scoring before Tomoki Muramatsu made it two goals for Tiger from the penalty spot in the 40th.

Cambodian forward Suong Virak, in the middle of a purple patch after netting four in the sides midweek Hun Sen Cup victory, added his name to the scoresheet after the restart, before Muramatsu hit his second on the hour. Yoshihara duly converted his own second in the 72nd before completing the rout, and his hat-trick, with a late strike in second-half stoppage time.

For Western it was another poor performance as they failed to handle the pacey forwards of the Tiger frontline, who controlled possession in the middle of the pitch and were able to test the keeper almost at will; as 15 shots on target at the full-time whistle show only too well.

Army Stay Top, Crown Downed

On Sunday, Ministry of National Defense FC maintained their strong form as they hit a decisive 3-0 victory in a comfortable win in their afternoon clash at the Army Stadium, while six-time C-League champions Phnom Penh Crown FC went down to their third defeat of the season in a shock 2-0 reverse at the hands of lowly Asia Europe United FC.

Army striker Choe Myong-ho opened the scoring midway through the first-half from the penalty spot sending the keeper the wrong way to give the hosts a deserved lead. Sprightly forward Phuong Soksana, a thorn in the side of the CMAC backline, got his reward early in the second half capitalising on an error from CMAC keeper Ly Someth to slot home a second.

Myong-ho continued to run at the CMAC defense, with the North Korean attacker somewhat inevitably doubling his tally late in the game, sending a thudding third goal beyond Someth to seal a seventh league match win for the league leaders.

Unfortunately for CMAC, there was little they could do to stop the Army assault. The league’s newest side were unable to muster a shot on target in the entire game as they conceded a fifth league defeat in 2016, although a glimpse of promise came from the solid performance of goalkeeper Someth – who despite conceding three and a horrendous fumble resulting in Soksana’s goal – was responsible for keeping the defeat at a respectable scoreline.

Elsewhere, in the day’s evening clash, perhaps the shock of the season was delivered as Asia Europe United FC ended their ignominious seven-game winless streak in the league with an unlikely 2-0 victory away to 2014 and 2015 C-League champions Phnom Penh Crown FC.

AEU went into the game at the bottom of the table after a series of five losses and two draws saw t the university side sit rock bottom of the standings. Crown meanwhile, went into Sunday’s tie on the back of confidence-boosting wins over C-League title challengers Preah Khan Svay Rieng FC and Kompong Speu in the Hun Sen Cup.

However, a double from Baldwin Afa Ngwa, an ex-Crown man himself, was enough to provide a shock win as the six-time champions went down to their third league defeat of the season – leaving them a hefty 10-points behind top of the league Army and Boeung Ket.

In the other late kick-off, NagaWorld FC ground out a 2-1 win over luckless National Police Commissary despite being second-best in a tense evening encounter. Tum Saray’s strike in the second-half complemented a first-half effort from Sos Suhana, before an 85th minute consolation from veteran Police forward Nuth Sinoun ensured a breathless finish at the Olympic Stadium.