Khmer Times/Ismail Vorajee Tuesday, 31 January 2017 1115 views

Boeung Ket ready for the clash with Laos

Boeung Ket Angkor FC welcomes Lao Toyota FC this evening for an all-important first leg of their 2017 AFC Cup Asean playoff qualifier – and will be looking to get their 2017 campaign on track ahead of the impending 2017 C-League season.

The Cambodians – seemingly losing players and staff at every turn – are a vastly different prospect than their label as 2016 C-League champions seems to suggest.

After ending the contract of much-loved coach Prak Sovannara, Boeung Ket moved quickly to fill the managerial void and swiftly announced the appointment of British-Australian coach John McGlynn for his second stint at the helm of the Rubbermen – in the hope that he could steer the side past their dangerous Lao opponents.

The club had struggled in recent months. A poor showing in both the BTV Cup in Vietnam and the regional Toyota Mekong Club Championship (TMCC) were instrumental in the board’s decision to dismiss coach Sovannara – despite guiding the club to the 2016 C-League title.

Visitors Lanexang United, also of Laos, clinically swept aside Boeung Ket 3-0 in their TMCC semifinal matchup in Phnom Penh in December and with McGlynn now overseeing proceedings, the Rubbermen will be hoping to avoid a similar fate today.

Speaking at a press conference yesterday morning, interim coach McGlynn said he was expecting a positive result. “My team has prepared well for the match and we will need to win decisively. If we want to go through to the next round, we’ll have to make the most of home advantage.”

Silisantiphab Pokasomboun, assistant coach of Lao Toyota, noted that Boeung Ket had undergone a lot of changes since their last meeting and hoped that it was something the visitors could capitalize on.

Some optimism for Boeung Ket fans will come from the last meeting between the two sides in September 2015’s TMCC opening group game.

A double strike late in each half from Chan Vathanaka gave the Cambodian visitors an invaluable victory as the club then went on to record a remarkable run to the final, where they were narrowly defeated by Thailand’s Buriram United.

Tonight’s match will also be among the last for Boeung Ket’s young star Vathanaka who agreed to terms for a season-long loan at Japanese J3-League outfit Fujieda MYFC earlier this month.

He will join up with his new teammates midway through February and his old club will no doubt miss his goals, which have led them to much recent success.

He notched 35 league goals, and a total of 60 across all competitions for club and country and finished 2015 as the highest goal scorer in any Southeast Asian nation

The 23-year-old continued his goal scoring exploits in the 2016 season, scoring a hat-trick against CMAC FC in his first start, going on to plunder 22 league goals as Boeung Ket beat Ministry of Defense FC and claimed only their second league title.

However, their Lao counterparts will be no pushovers. Kazuo Homma, their Japanese star striker, is clinical with the ball at his feet and it was his goals that helped secure the 2015 Lao Premier League (LPL). Their 2016 campaign however was derailed by rivals Lanexang United who deposed Lao Toyota at the top of the LPL pile in 2016.

Tonight’s match will kick-off at Phnom Penh’s National Stadium at 6pm with category 1 tickets on sale for 8000 riel. Cheaper category 2 seating is available for 4000 riel. The return leg is scheduled for next week.

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