Ov Mal hoping to break duck and represent Cambodia abroad

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Ov Mal FC's players (red) run to the ball under pressure from Tai Chi FT's player during their National Futsal Cup on June 19, 2022. SUPPLIED

As the oldest futsal team in Cambodia, Ov Mal FC is focused and committed to their biggest goal yet –winning the National Futsal Cup and earning the chance to compete on the international stage, representing the Kingdom.

Founded in 2012, Ov Mal has transformed themselves from an amateur team who played for fun and health into one of the strongest teams in the country. They regularly compete for domestic titles organised by private companies. According to Cheab Ly Chhay, coach and president of the club, so far the team has won 21 private titles.

Ly Chhay told the Post on June 20: “Since its inception in 2012, Ov Mal have competed in many tournaments and has won a number of consecutive titles. The 2021 Makor Futsal Cup was our 21st title. We beat Van Da Sak 5-0 in the final in Apri.”

However, the club has yet to claim victory at the national futsal tournament, organised by the Football Federation of Cambodia. Competing since 2015, the team has so far remained the perpetual bridesmaid, finishing runners-up three times, with one third place.

These results are a painful memory for the club, who lost all three finals matches they have reached. The first was in 2017, with the second coming a year later. Both losses were to the Cambodia Kamchay Mear Union of Youth Federation, with the third disappointment coming in the 2020 final. That year, Ly Chhay’s club went down 9-4 to Monahang.

However, Ov Mal are confident of victory in this year’s National Futsal Cup after beating Tai Chi FT 3-2 at the semi-finals on June 19. This has paved their way to their fourth final match. On June 26 they will meet Blue Warriors FC for a shot at the title.

Speaking after the victory over Tai Chie, Ly Chay said: “Beating Tai Chi was tough. I was nervous when Tai Chi fought back to nearly draw the match. They got close with their comeback, but my players remained strong, kept their heads and held on for the win.”

Ov Mal had lost 2-1 to Tai Chi FT in the second round of the competition, but hunger for revenge in the return match gave them the motivation they needed to win a seat at the top table. The Blue Warriors now await them in the final. Ov Mal met the ‘warriors in the second round of the comp, but unlike in their Tai Chi meeting, easily prevailed 5-0.

“I,like the whole team, am laser-focused on this final. Although we were only able to claim second place in our last three finals, I believe that this year will be different. We have beaten the Blue Warriors already, and that match showed me that our defence is superior to theirs. We also found many attacking chances against them, so we have high hopes of bringing this title home,” noted veteran coach Ly Chhay.

“For years, the club has watched the likes of Downtown FC, Kamchay Mear and Mahahang when they played games abroad. This time we are confident that we will win the title, and Cambodia’s place in an international club competition,” he added.

“I want to lead the team abroad to represent the Kingdom and gain new experience which will strengthen our team. I am not just focused on Ov Mal, but all Cambodian teams. I will do all I can to help grow the sport of futsal here, as I want us to compete with the other countries in the region,” he said.

Goalkeeper Neak Chansambath was voted player of the match in the semi-final. He saved a huge number of shots on goal by the Tai Chi team, maintaining the 3-2 lead until the final whistle.

“We have already beaten Blue Warriors FC 5-0. We are confident of repeating the result in the final, and then going on to represent Cambodia,” he said.