'Thank god that's over' is the expression on the faces of PKR's (LtoR) Khuon Laboravy, Ouk Mic and Sam El Nasa
The successful Preah Khan team line-up before their 2-1 semi-final success over BBU. LtoR (back row) Chanrasmey, Mic, Njoku, Nzekwest, Rithy, Laboravy, (front) Veasna, Samnang, Raksmey, El Nasa, Narith.Neither coach sprang any surprise in their team selections for the first of the Metfone C-League semi-finals at Olympic Stadium today. Both Preah Khan and BBU have operated this season selecting from a pool of 14 players with youngsters making up the numbers. The two teams began the game with two Nigerians apiece and it was PKR's lanky midfielder Devide Njoku who drew first blood with less than 2 minutes on the clock. BBU keeper Sos Proshim made a complete hash of a routine catch and as Rim Bunhieng cleared his line, he fired the ball against the shins of Njoku who celebrated as though he meant it. PKR had their noses in front and that just about summed up the first-half, with PKR shading the possession. Each side had half chances without really troubling either goalkeeper before lightning and heavy rains struck 20 minutes into the game. With 4 minutes left of the opening half, PKR increased their advantage when a San Narith free-kick skidded off the head of BBU defender Nhim Sovanara and crept inside the far corner for an own goal. Within a minute, BBU had reduced the deficit when Chhun Sothearath curled a measured shot past Ouk Mic from the edge of the area, but that was as good as it got for BBU. The heavy rain made a mockery of the second half, which should never have been played in my opinion. Surface water made passing an impossible skill and the game deteriorated into kick and rush football with no finesse whatsoever. The crowd loved the slapstick it produced but football was at a premium and the semi-final spectacle suffered for it. Ouk Mic produced a classy flying one-handed punch to safety from Oum Chandara's drive and Augustine Ogbni had a header disallowed for a negligible offside but that was all BBU had to show for their efforts whilst PKR remained strong and resolute without offering too much offensively in the second period. But their celebrations at the end were a reminder of exactly how much it meant to them to reach next week's C-League play-off final.
Plucky BBU just couldn't find a cutting edge to beat Preah Khan in today's semi-final. They will now play for 3rd place in next Friday's decider.
Sam El Nasa (red) can't bear to look at referee Thong Chankethya's toss-up. He's seen it all before. The ref only booked 5 players today - is that a record?