Sunday, September 6, 2009

Never mind the quality...

Kirivong's Juliuos Chukwumeka who netted a hat-trick against Preah Khan today
Today's Cambodian Premier League football at Olympic Stadium was a bit of a mixed bag with Naga narrowly beating Post Tel 1-0 and Kirivong outgunning Preah Khan (PKR) 5-4, though with Naga and PKR already qualified for the Super 4 play-offs, they both fielded very weakened teams and as a result, the quality of football suffered. There was also confusion regarding the 5th place finish between Ministry of National Defense (MND) and Kirivong that was only resolved by a look at the CPL rulebook by the executive committee. Everyone had presumed that if Kirivong won today, then as the two teams were level on points, the 5th spot - which gets a big cash prize - would be decided on goal difference. Wrong. The rules state that games between the two teams concerned will decide the ranking and in that respect MND get the nod, drawing 2-2 and winning 2-0 in their head to heads.
Naga had 5 players suspended today and another five regulars sat on the bench, so began with an inexperienced all-Khmer line-up and it showed. Post Tel should've beaten them if Durosinmi Gafar had taken his chances. Instead, a header from Sun Samprathna just after half-time was enough for the win.
Preah Khan were also shorn of 3 players on suspensions and another 7 regulars rested, and in their case, they paid the price. With 6 goals in the first 30 minutes, it was fun to watch the ball going in like a pinball but it wasn't pretty defending by any stretch of the imagination. PKR led 4-3 at the interval with goals from Olisa Onyemerea (2), Michael Ikenwa and Keo Kosal, with Kirivong's coming from Vin Nhek Troeung and two from the injury-returning Juliuos Chukwumeka including a penalty. Within 2 minutes of the restart, Kirivong were leading 5-4 and that's how it ended. Him Salam and a hat-trick goal from Chukwumeka turned it around and left PKR sunk. When they then took off their two African strikers it was clear they weren't interested in winning this particular match.
The play-offs, which will decide the final CPL rankings, begin next Saturday with Phnom Penh Crown (1st) facing Naga (4th), and Preah Khan (2nd) meeting Khemara Keila (3rd). The winners and losers will then meet again on the 26th.
A Preah Khan line-up that we won't see again in a hurry
Naga's central defensive lynchpin and scorer, Sun Samprathna
A makeshift Naga Corp line-up that scraped through 1-nil today
2 Post Tel players try to apprehend a runaway umbrella in the wind

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