Boeung Ket football club survived a mid-season coaching change and the turmoil related to the coronavirus pandemic to top the first round of the Metfone Cambodian League (MCL) 2020 season.
The first round of Cambodia’s top football league ended last weekend with the Phnom Penh-based team on top of the standings after accumulating a total of 32 points, a point ahead of defending champion Preah Khan Reach Svay Rieng FC.
Visakha FC (23 points) occupied the third spot, followed by Tiffy Army FC (23), Phnom Penh Crown FC (22) and NagaWorld FC (22).
Boeung Ket achieved the feat on the last day of the first round after beating PKR Svay Rieng FC, 4-2. With 10 wins and two draws after 12 matches, Boeung Ket FC remained as the sole unbeaten team this season, a record previously shared with PKR Svay Rieng FC, before their shock loss last Sunday.
Boeung Ket FC achieved the feat despite the tough competition, rough start, change of coach in the middle of the season and turmoil related to the pandemic.
Boeung Ket FC started their MCL campaign with a 1-1 draw with Angkor Tiger FC, followed by a 1-0 win over Visakha FC. The win against Visakha FC was followed by another draw (1-1), this time to NagaWorld FC. Boeung Ket FC then defeated National Police FC, 3-0, before the season was suspended because of the health crisis.
Then unexpectedly, the team parted ways with head coach Apisit Im Amphai. The Thai mentor was with the team for over six months before his surprise departure in mid-June.
Under him, Boeung Ket FC compiled two wins and two draws after four matches, leaving the team with eight points and in fifth place overall among the 13 teams competing in the MCL.
Apisit’s post was taken over in an interim capacity by the team’s technical director, Kim Pheakdey, who guided Boeung Ket FC to eight straight wins that culminated in their surprise victory over the heavily-favoured team from Svay Rieng province.
The League will have a two-week hiatus, before the second round starts on September 5.
The top six teams (Boeung Ket FC, PKR Svay Rieng FC, Visakha FC, Tiffy Army FC, Phnom Penh Crown FC and NagaWorld FC) will battle it out for the championship, while the remaining seven teams will fight for the 7th to 13th spots, with the lowest-ranked team relegated to the Cambodian Second League.
The second round will conclude on October 24, with the season shortened because of the pandemic.