KENYA BROWN - Wednesday, November 6, 2019
Jonny Campbell and Svay Rieng came up short in their quest for invincibility as some questionable officitating saw them lose in their final game of Cambodia's C-League season.
Svay Rieng were denied the chance to become the first Cambodian league team to finish the season unbeaten under controversial circumstances as NagaWorld came away with a 2-1 win at the Phnom Penh National Olympic Stadium.
With the league title already in their possession, Svay Rieng was on the brink of making history, and they were intent making sure that happened as they came out aggressive in the first half. And their aggressiveness would pay off as they opened the scoring in the 18th minute when Soeuy Visal put away a sublime free-kick into the bottom left-hand corner of the goal.
The host would then start to attack Svay Rieng's goal, but Campbell and his back line mates were able to withstand the pressure.
The champions continued their push to extend their when controversey first struck in the 27th minute as a shot from forward Privat Mbarga appeared to be handled in the area by NagaWorld's Nhim Sovannara. Despite the protest from the Svay Rieng players, the referee did not call for the penalty.
The referee then missed a clear penalty 10 minutes later when Campbell dribbled from back and played the ball to Prak Mony Udom in the area. The captain attempted to take a shot on goal, but was tripped up by a NagaWorld defender. Again, Svay Rieng protested for a penalty, but the referee allowed play to continue.
It was clear to see how the game was going to be officiated throughout the day when the referee made a highly questionable call for a penalty in the 68th minute. Svay Rieng made a poor attempt to clear the ball from their area, allowing NagaWorld's Yugo Kawabata to take a shot at goal from distance. However, Campbell did well to get back to prevent the ball from crossing over the line, but the referee blew his whistle and pointed to the spot for a penalty.
Replays clearly showed that the ball had hit the American center-back on the rib cage and not his arm, but the official stuck with his decision, allowing the host a chance to level the score. Atuheire Kipson would step up and convert the spot-kick.
The momentum then seemed to have shifted in the favor of NagaWorld as they went on to take the lead eight minutes later as Esoh Paul Omogba headed the ball from cross on the left side.
Svay Rieng went on the hunt for the equalizer in hopes of maintaining their unbeaten record and came close near the end of the game when Campbell rose up to head the ball at goal from a long free-kick. However, his heroics would be thwarted by goalkeeper Sou Yaty.
Before the final whistle the referee then decided to send off Campbell for a second yellow card in an example of the questionable officiating in a game that should have seen the champions make history.
Despite the controversial loss, Campbell and his teammates can reflect on a successful season that will see them participate in the AFC Cup in 2020.
Mix Diskerud started and played 80 minutes as Ulsan Hyundai came away with a 1-0 win over FC Seoul to maintain their three-point lead over rivals Jeonbuk Motors in the K Leauge 1 standings. The two teams will meet in possibly the title-decider on Nov. 23.