Army and Po­lice in fi­nal fight for the cup

The Phnom Penh Post - - SPORT - HS Man­ju­nath

THE bat­tle for the pres­ti­gious Hun Sen Cup takes the spot­light in do­mes­tic foot­ball af­ter the cli­max to the league cham­pi­onship, with Min­istry of Na­tional De­fence and Na­tional Po­lice locked in the fi­nal showdown at the Olympic Sta­dium, which is to kick off at 6:30pm on Sat­ur­day.

Struc­tured in a multi-phase for­mat and cel­e­brat­ing its 12th edi­tion, the Hun Sen Cup is the only open foot­ball tour­na­ment in the King­dom, open­ing up op­por­tu­ni­ties for teams from prov­inces to com­pete with some of the best pri­vately owned and es­tab­lished clubs in Cam­bo­dia.

Af­ter a qual­i­fi­ca­tion and elim­i­na­tion group stage process that lasted for sev­eral months, the fi­nal­ists this year fought their way through to the fi­nal, as some of the more fan­cied teams like Na­gaWorld, Boe­ung Ket, and mul­ti­ple win­ners and reign­ing champs Svay Rieng all hit­ting the buf­fers in the knock­out stages.

On the way to the fi­nal, the Army edged past Naga, while Po­lice ar­rested the progress of Siem Reap-based Angkor Tiger.

Go­ing into the fi­nal, the Army out­fit en­joys a dis­tinct advan- tage, hav­ing beaten their ad­ver­saries twice dur­ing the just con­cluded Met­fone C-League sea­son. Be­sides, the gulf be­tween the two sides in the fi­nal stand­ings was so wide that it is hard to see Po­lice match­ing Army’s all round strength.

With 39 points, Army fin­ished fourth in the league, a drop from their run­ners-up berth last year, yet they were no less than 14 points bet­ter off in the ta­ble com­pared to Po­lice, who lost half of the games in the 22 cam­paign to fin­ish ninth out of 12 teams.

Win­ners in 2010 and 2016 and run­ners-up once in 2013, Army have per­haps the best com­po­si­tion of lo­cal play­ers com­pared to any lead­ing side, an in this com­pe­ti­tion as it is re­stricted to Cam­bo­dian play­ers only.

If his­tory were to stand by Po­lice, the side can look back to 2014 for draw­ing in­spi­ra­tion. In what was a year of un­usual re­sults, and against all ex­pec­ta­tions, two long-shots in Po­lice and Build Bright United reached the fi­nal, leav­ing some heavy­weights red-faced.

Po­lice went on to claim their first and un­til now only ma­jor tro­phy since mov­ing up to the Premier League in 2000 as win­ners of League 1.

If track record is any in­dica- tion, it looks as if the cup is Army’s to lose.

SRENG MENG SRUN

Svay Rieng cap­tain Prak Mony Udom lifts the Hun Sen Cup last sea­son.

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