Saturday, September 26, 2009

Super 4 Saturday

Naga collect the cup, the cheque and their medals as they pose with FFC President Sao Sokha
Whatever your opinion about the Super 4 finals, today was a great climax to the season with thrills, spills, a walk-off and an extra-time winner to clinch the Cambodian Premier league championship for Naga Corp. Their final success wasn't pretty but it was effective as they played the better football and deservedly pipped plucky Khemara 2-1 in the Super 4 decider. With so much at stake, the feast of football we were hoping for was replaced by nerves and a game of cat and mouse for the first 90 minutes. Naga were the more measured of the teams, playing some neat football without really threatening whilst Khemara relied on the long ball to their two strikers without any success. After the lights came on in extra-time, Sunday Okonkwo stooped to head Naga in front on 107 minutes though before the game could restart, they were down to 10-men when Tiet Chandara Sokha was sent off for lifting his shirt over his head and dismissed for a 2nd bookable offence. More pedantic crap from referee Tuy Vichheka as usual. Khemara couldn't press home their numerical advantage and when Okonkwo profited from a lack of communication at the back and rolled the ball into an empty net on 114 minutes, it was all over bar the shouting. In fact, no-one told Khemara centre-half Joel Omoraka and he blasted in a 30-yarder with a minute to go to set Naga nerves jangling, but they held out and went wild with joy at the final whistle, and rightly so. It was their 3rd title win in six years, as they collected the trophy from the Minister of Tourism Thong Khon and a cheque for 40 million riel. Though I'm neutral, I was chuffed for my favourite player, Naga skipper Om Thavrak, who had to watch from the bench after limping off with an injury on 75 minutes. He was ecstatic and will take days to calm down. The crowd played their part too, the thousands that came to watch upped the noise level for once and the friendly banter between the teams' fans was a pleasure to witness.
Naga mean business as they pose before the game begins
Naga manager Michael Thachnen wins the CPL title for the 2nd time in 3 years
Michael Thachnen lifts the CPL trophy aloft to everyone's delight
Minister Thong Khon presents a cheque for 40 million riel to the winners
The best left back in the CPL, national team player Sun Sovannarith

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