Om Thavrak and Meas Channa took off their shirts, the rest of the players looked non-plussed, officials from the Cambodian Football Federation appeared, went away, returned and went away again shaking their heads, and still the team manager was on the phone. After twelve minutes of complete stupidity, someone made Naga see sense, they put their shirts back on and returned to the pitch. The game continued for a couple of minutes before the half-time whistle was blown.
I wasn't pitchside so I don't know why the Naga team changed their minds and ended their mini sit-down. A realization that they looked complete pricks may've been part of it. Or a threat to expel them from future cup competitions might have been another. All I know is that it makes Naga and Cambodian football look so amateurish, as it did when Phnom Penh Crown did the same trick in last season's play-offs. No one club is bigger than the rules of the game. There is no room for throwing your dummy out of the cot in such an irresponsible fashion. I saw at the SEA Games when this type of behaviour goes unchecked. The Malaysian team physically attacked the referee, and yet they were still able to stay in the competition, and won it, god forbid. The game's administrators have to come down hard on this type of conduct or teams and players will continue to push the edge of this particular envelope and it will all end in tears. The game will suffer and so will my enjoyment.
The Naga manager decides on the fate of the cup semi-final, whilst everyone else sits on their hands
Naga skipper Om Thavrak (right) and match referee Thong Chankethya suffering from stress. All photos courtesy of www.nicksellsphotography.com