Vathanaka keen to pull on his shooting boots

Ismail Vorajee / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
Chan Vathanaka (left) is eager to rediscover his form in front of goal. KT/Yeun Punlue

Cambodian international striker Chan Vathanaka wants to show Boeung Ket fans what they’ve been missing in this evening’s 2017 Toyota Mekong Club Championship first round second leg clash against Vietnamese visitors Sanna Khanh Hoa.

Following his return from a frustrating loan spell at Japanese club Fujieda MYFC, Vathanaka has been vocal in his desire to rediscover his golden boot-winning form of 2015 and 2016.

The wily forward sat alongside coach Hao Socheat at yesterday’s pre-match press conference and told reporters he was ready to lead the attack once more.

“I’ve been training with the team and the coach and I both believe I’m ready,” said the Kampot-born forward.
“The first game was really great to watch and we saw lots of goals being scored.”

In Saturday’s highly entertaining first leg, Sanna Khanh Hoa had the lead four times, but were pegged back on each occasion by the C-League champions – Brazilian Maycon Calijuri bagging a superb hat-trick for the Cambodians.

“We know our opponents can also score a lot and they’ll be just as dangerous. We’ll need to keep our full concentration,” said Vathanaka.

“But I am prepared and I hope our supporters can all come and support us. Perhaps their support can give us the edge.”

The addition of Vathanaka to the BK attack will be sure to cause problems for Sanna Khanh Hoa. In the run-up to their 2015 TMCC final appearance, Vathanaka scored all three goals in a 3-2 semi-final win over Vietnam’s Becamex Bình Dương, putting Boeung Ket in the final.

Although Boeung Ket Angkor lost in the final to Thailand’s Buriram United, Vathanaka finished the tournament as the top scorer with five goals and was also named tournament MVP.

He finished the 2015 league season with 35 goals, a total of 55 goals in all competitions include national and club, the most of any Southeast Asian player.

He then continued his impressive form in 2016, leading BK to the C-League title and finishing atop the scoring charts for the second consecutive year with 22 goals.

After rumours lingered for months, he was then snapped up on a season-long loan at Japanese third tier side Fujieda MYFC in January earlier this year.

Despite the fanfare, he made zero full appearances for the Japanese-league club, who claimed the Cambodian had exceptionally poor fitness and stamina.

Nonetheless, coach Socheat hopes Vathanaka can swiftly rediscover his scoring boots while simultaneously firing a broadside at his defenders, who conceded four goals in Saturday’s match.

“With the addition of Vathanaka tomorrow we’ll be stronger in attack,” he explained.“But, from what we learned in the first leg, we’ll have to concentrate much better in defence than we did on Saturday.

“Despite our four away goals advantage, we still really want to win this game. It’s really important we play a good match.”

Tonight’s match will be played at Phnom Penh’s National Olympic Stadium with tickets available until kick-off. Category 1 tickets are priced at $2 while category 2 tickets will go for a mere $1.

Elsewhere in domestic action, the exodus at the former C-League champions Phnom Penh Crown continued as Cambodian national team forward Keo Sokpheng announced he had signed with Malaysian Super League club Perbadanan Kemajuan Negeri Perak.

The 25-year-old joined Crown a little over two years ago from Boeung Ket and scored nearly 30 goals in his 50 outings for the club. Joining Sokpheng at the Malaysian club is former Crown teammate and fellow striker Gi Sung Yeon.

The South Korean, who joined Crown in May, was a standout performer when not injured. He led the club to a huge league win, scoring seven goals in an 11-0 whitewash of CMAC.

Crown also released French defender Anthony Aymard and Japanese midfield enforcer Yuta Suzuki. Crown fans will be eager to see the club sign up replacements after a poor season which, courtesy of a fifth-place finish, saw them miss out on the C-League play-offs.

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