Defending champion Preah Khan Reach Svay Rieng football club kept their title hopes alive after beating Tiffy Army FC in the playoffs of the Metfone Cambodian League (MCL).
Cambodian striker Prak Mony Udom and forward Jean Befolo “Privat” Mbarga lead their team
to a 5-2 win over a tough Army side at the Old Army Stadium in Phnom Penh on Sunday.
Last week, it appeared that rival Boeung Ket Angkor FC would romp off with the Cambodian League title this year, with a growing lead on top of a nine-game winning streak. The Svay Rieng province-based team, meanwhile, saw its title defence campaign faltering after two successive defeats to Boeung Ket Angkor FC and Phnom Penh Crown FC.
But a Boeung Ket Angkor FC draw with NagaWorld FC on Saturday, coupled with its latest win, breathed new life to PKR Svay Rieng FC. Boeung Ket Angkor FC is only leading by two points, 36-34, with a little over one month remaining before the second leg of Cambodia’s top football league concludes.
The two teams have three matches remaining on their schedule before October 24 D-Day.
After a series of recent injuries impeded him, Prak, the 2017 Player of the Year, came through with his best performance this year.
The 26-year-old striker netted a brace and scored his team’s first goal, an indirect free kick, in the 10th minute.
Two minutes later, Mbarga launched a one-man attack close to the goal, before he was tripped by one of the Army defenders inside the box and was awarded a penalty. The Cameroonian striker easily converted the ensuing penalty kick for a 2-0 lead.
The Army team fought back and managed to trim the deficit to one after Cambodian striker Narong Kakada scored in the 17th minute.
Brazilian striker Cristiano Marcolino Santos moved forward with the ball but fell after being marked by one of the PKR Svay Rieng FC defenders. In the ensuing scramble, the ball bounced off keeper Aim Sovannarath and Narong proceeded to head it home for his team’s first goal of the match.
Mbarga netted another goal in the 44th minute as the first half ended with PKR Svay Rieng FC ahead, 3-1.
A few minutes later, Mbarga achieved a hat-trick with his third goal in the 52nd minute. Another goal by Prak in the 56th minute widened the lead to 5-1.
Tiffy Army FC courageously fought back, but the best it could do was a goal by Cambodian midfielder Sok Daravuth in the final minute which reduced their team’s disadvantage to 5-2, just as the horn sounded.
It was a disappointing finish for the Army team, which rolled through at the end of the first round with four straight wins and the number four spot.
“It was exactly what we needed. We needed to respond with a strong performance and I believe that’s exactly what we did. All of the boys were fighting the entire game at an extremely wet old stadium which isn’t a good pitch to begin with. We created many chances to score, which was really positive. Conceding two goals isn’t ideal, but we will work hard to fix the mistakes we made for the goals and continue our preparation for our next game against Boeung Ket,” ace defender Johnny Campbell said after the match.