Srey Veasna is collecting clubs like they are going out of fashion. He turned out for Naga Corp today.I must admit that this afternoon's sole Metfone C-League game of the weekend was the type I enjoy. Lots of talking points, four goals, a stack of yellow and red cards and two defences who for much of the match seemed incapable of stemming the possibility of goals. That we only saw four of them was a big surprise. If there had been some good football on show as well from either Naga or BBU that would've been the icing on the cake, unfortunately, good football was at a premium today. One person out to make a name for himself was referee Lim Bunthoeun. He's new on the block and in his debut game in the middle last week he booked 7 players, whilst today he topped even that by booking eight players and flashing two red cards. However it was the things he didn't do that caught the eye. More on that later. The final score of 2-2 was perhaps fitting though Naga will kick themselves for not taking at least one of two guilt-edged chances they fashioned in the last couple of minutes of the game. It took Naga just 35 seconds from the kick-off to register goal number 1. Chim Sambo rode a tackle, crossed low and hard into the six yard box and Rim Bunhieng miscued his clearance past his own keeper Sos Proshim. It was to sum up the defender's day. On 18 minutes, Naga's Kop Isa raced onto a Pok Chanthan long ball and with the BBU defenders conspicuous by their absence, he deftly dinked the ball over the onrushing Proshim to give Naga a clear two-goal lead. BBU weren't at the races and Nuth Sinoun should've done better when they finally woke up as he blasted a shot wildly over after racing clear on 23 minutes. Before the goal-kick could be taken, Naga keeper Mak Theara was booked for time-wasting. Yes, time-wasting after just 23 minutes. Referee Lim Bunthoeun was to strike many more times in the game.
A minute after the half-hour mark and Nuth Sinoun made amends with a toe-poke goal after the Naga defence decided to go AWOL. His teammate Nhim Sovannara was lucky to stay on the pitch after he brought down Kop Isa on 38 minutes. Keeper Proshim made a hash of a clearance, Isa was in on goal and Sovannara fouled him and must've expected a red card. No such luck, as Bunthoeun dropped a real clanger and only flashed a yellow version. Bad call. As the half-time whistle approached, the referee got another incident badly wrong. He must've missed Rim Bunhieng's kick on Naga's Chea Virath, though he definitely saw Virath's retaliatory strike that nearly floored the BBU defender. As the players joined in the melee, Nuth Sinoun, known for his short fuse, entered the fray with a push. The match official didn't bother to consult anyone, simply waving his red card at Virath and then at Sinoun, forgetting Bunhieng's part in the fracas. The half ended in uproar with BBU moaning the loudest, Bunhieng nursing a swollen eye and Virath menacingly wagging his finger at the BBU bench. With the 2nd half just two minutes old, BBU drew level. Oum Chandara swung his right foot 25 yards out and his shot arrowed into the top corner before Mak Theara could move. The game's finest moment without a doubt.
Naga then introduced Srey Veasna into the action, which had me raising my eyebrows again, as it did when Veasna was employed by BBU for the Hun Sen Cup Final a few weeks ago. The fact that Veasna plays for Loei City in the Thai 2nd Division and then pops over to Cambodia for the odd game or three when he feels like it, seems to fly in the face of FIFA regulations. I can only assume he's not on a contract in Thailand and was registered by Naga weeks before the start of the season, before the registration window closed (which of course he didn't as he was with BBU; I'm being facetious). Can someone at the federation, please explain how a player can play in two countries' national competitions for 3 different teams in the space of a few weeks. I asked him after the game if he was still playing in Thailand and he said he was. As the game wore on, both teams looked knackered, even the BBU keeper had to be replaced with cramp and Naga fluffed two chances, through Chin Chum (thanks to a great stop by substitute Hem Simay) and Kop Isa in the dying moments. And that was it, 2-2 and honours even as 22 players collapsed with exhaustion at the final whistle. I even spotted the national coach taking notes for the 1st time this season, probably working out whether Srey Veasna can get a couple more clubs under his belt before he gets a place in his national squad again.