With their North Korean signings pulling their weight in good measure, newly promoted Visakha find themselves at the top of the Metfone C-League table on goal difference after two wins on the bounce.
The Phnom Penh-based outfit now face six-time champions Phnom Penh Crown in Sunday’s key fixture at Western Stadium.
Both sides have six points each, along with champions Boeung Ket, who push Crown into third on goal difference.
After this weekend’s fixtures, the season takes its first break as the national team heads to Laos for next week’s friendly and then to Tajikistan for the Asian Cup group tie against Afghanistan.
The league matches resume on April 7.
Crown have been boosted by their victory over arch rivals National Defense Ministry last week and by the announcement that five of their young players are included in the 23-man squad named by national head coach Prak Sovannara for the matches against Laos and Afghanistan over the next two weeks.
On reputation and record, Crown clearly come out stronger, but Visakha have made a good impression in the first two games of the season and could well run the multiple league winners close if the team’s North Korean strike force operates at its best.
Also featured on the day is the clash between Boeung Ket and National Police Commissary at Olympic Stadium. This twilight tie comes hard on the heels of a disappointing trip to Singapore by the defending champions, who were smashed 6-0 by Home United in their AFC Cup group clash on Wednesday night.
But in the Metfone C-League, Boeung Ket’s reliability sees them come out as favourites over the unpredictable Police. Last week Police held Preah Khan Reach Svay Rieng to a goalless draw after opening the season with a runaway 6-0 win over Western United.
Hun Sen Cup holders Svay Rieng will be eager to open their winning account, having gone goalless against both NagaWorld and National Police in their first two matches. They face Electricite du Cambodge at the Svay Rieng stadium.
The clash between Asia Europe United and Army stands out in Saturday’s fixtures. Army are still struggling to hit the right groove after bringing in three South Koreans and two Japanese into their ranks as replacements for the North Korean quartet they let go to Visakha.
Their remarkable comeback from four goals down to snatch a draw in their 4-3 loss to Boeung Ket in their season opener was clear indication that AEU will trouble the best this season.
Last week’s 2-1 win over newcomers Soltilo has kept AEU in good spirits as they gear up to tackle a robust side like Army, who will be looking to make amends after their 2-0 loss to Phnom Penh Crown last week.
The well knit Naga will be up against Siem Reap-based Angkor Tiger, formerly Cambodian Tiger, who have often shown in the past that they can hold their own against the strongest of sides.
Soltilo, another Siem Reap team, face Western in the hope of breaking out with their first win in the top flight, to which they were promoted this year along with Visakha.