Handbags at five paces was how the teams left the field at the end of the Naga v Crown match Wednesday afternoonBlood and guts is what football fans love. Take it from me. Of course we all love great football, lots of goals, wonderful on-the-ball artistry but if a game is boiling over the top, the players are giving no quarter, and the referee is losing control, it all adds to the spice of those 90 minutes where nothing else in the world matters but the match. Today's Metfone C-League game between Naga and Phnom Penh Crown was one of those encounters. The final score was 2-2, honours even but when the final whistle blew it signalled a free-for-all that fortunately didn't escalate past handbags at five paces though I would not have liked to have been in the way of Crown's brick outhouse-built defender Sani Saidu at that moment. He was livid and he wanted the whole stadium to know it. It was a bit like Tarzan calling all the jungle animals to help him. Back to the game. Crown started like a runaway train. Keo Sokngorn and Prince Justine put them 2-nil ahead on ten minutes. Naga, who needed a win to go back to the top of the table, reduced the deficit with a Meas Channa free-kick that was straight out of the David Beckham book of free-kicks. Referee Tuy Vichheka is not one of my fave match officials and he proved my point on 77 minutes. He was 40 yards behind play when Teab Vatanak sent out a piercing scream and fell to the ground. Looking at his linesman, who hid behind his flag, Vichheka gave a free-kick on the edge of the box against Tieng Tiny, who was completely non-plussed. As a neutral football fan I was livid with the decision, as were the whole Crown team. Vatanak, who it seems is able to get these decisions from referees on a regular basis, then copied Channa with a glorious up and over the wall free-kick that even Beckham would've been proud of. 2-2 and tempers had reached boiling point. As for Vichheka he booked 7 but surprisingly must've left his red card at home. As for the game, I loved it and hope we get lots more like it in the second half of the C-League which starts in a week's time. Naga remain a point behind leaders BBU with Crown sitting in third and the Army boys in fourth.
Referee Tuy Vichheka doing what he does best, flashing a yellow card at Naga's Sun Sovanrithy (14). Fortunately he left his red card at home. Photo: nicksellsphotography