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Pisoth makes a dream return, while Svay Rieng remain the team to beat

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Phnom Penh Crown’s young striker Lim Pisoth (left) runs to the ball under pressure from Boeung Ket’s Mustafa Zazai during the Cambodian Premier League match. PHNOM PENH CROWN

Pisoth makes a dream return, while Svay Rieng remain the team to beat

Preah Khan Reach Svay Rieng have proven that they deserve to stand on top of the Cambodian Premier League after finishing the first leg of the season unbeaten.

Meanwhile, Lim Pisoth’s return from a knee injury has given hope to fans of the national team, as the young striker showed he is fit enough to rejoin the Kingdom’s squad – ahead of the 31st Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) in Vietnam in May.

Although Cambodia’s top flight league in 2022 has to be played across three legs before top 4 playoffs decide the winner, Svay Rieng’s 2-1 win over Visakha at home over the weekend showed the strength of the leading side.

The victory – through goals from Min Rathnak in the 50th minute and Mbarg Emmanual in the 67th – was the sixth three-point win for the club. So far this season they have defeated Boeung Ket, Phnom Penh Crown, Angkor Tiger, Tiffy Army and Kirivong Soksenchey. Their “worst” result of the season was a draw with NagaWorld.

They also strengthened their position on top of the table after their great rivals Boeung Ket and NagaWorld – who are neck to neck in 3rd and 4th places respectively – were disappointed on their final day of the first leg. Boeung Ket could only manage a 2-2 draw with Phnom Penh Crown while NagaWorld were stunned by giant killers Angkor Tiger in a 7 goal thriller.

Following a delightful 4-3 victory, Angkor Tiger coach Alistair Heath lauded his team for their entertaining performance.

“I’m really pleased, delighted and proud with the team. I enjoyed our performance for large parts of the game. When we had to dig in and fight, we did that, too,” said Alistair Heath.

“How we played pleased and excited me. Like I said, for large parts of the game, we had great possession, moved the ball quickly and created many chances. Obviously, there’re things to work on, but on the whole, I loved our performance.”

Khim Borey described the bitter loss at Siem Reap as a lesson learnt and accepted all the blame for NagaWorld’s dropped points.

“We get beaten. It’s a defeat, and I have no excuse for it,” said the NagaWorld first team coach. Our players did their best and put everything into the match, so I’m responsible for the defeat. It’s a good lesson for us, and I’m sure we have learned from it. We will try to fix our problems and improve.”

Results from the first leg of the season mean that Svay Rieng, who have 19 points, are leading with Boeung Ket in second on 13 points. NagaWorld have 11 points and Visakha – with 10 points – is level with Angkor Tiger. Phnom Penh Crown earned only 7 points, as did Tiffy Army, who finished the first leg of the season with a thrilling 5-1 defeat of Kirivong Soksenchey.

With the big win over Kirivong at the Old Stadium on Saturday, new Japanese striker Takumu Nishihara became the first league player to score five goals in a single match. This helped him move to second place on the top scorer table with 8 goals, behind Svay Rieng striker Marcus Haber, who has scored 10 goals so far.

In addition to the fight for 3 league table points, Cambodian football fans were impressed by the return of young player Lim Pisoth six weeks after he underwent surgery on his left knee.

Although Pisoth just returned to action, he was been in fine form in his first start for the Crown, and the 20-year-old forward scored the second goal in the 70th minute to help his team earn a 2-2 draw with Boeung Ket.

This performance demonstrated that Pisoth is strong enough to join the Cambodian national team for the SEA Games. Assistant coach of the national team Phea Sopheaktra told the Post before Saturday’s match that if Pisoth shows good skills and fitness levels in the match, he will definitely get a chance to play at the SEA Games.

“Pisoth is a key player in our attack and it is expected that he will make an impact in Cambodia’s main matches,” he said.

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