Ministry of National Defense FC leapfrogged their rivals Boeung Ket Angkor FC in their eagerly anticipated top of the table Metfone C-League clash with a 2-1 win at the National Olympic Stadium on Saturday evening.
Boeung Ket coach Prak Sovannara kept faith in Teab Vathanak to lead the line up front, flanked by the talented African trio of Gbenga Samuel, Esoh Paul Omogba and Dzarma Bata. Vathanak, a close-season signing from NagaWorld FC, made his debut in Boeung Ket’s narrow 2016 Hun Sen Cup win over AEU in midweek scoring in the game’s opening minutes.
Army meanwhile paired North Korean attacker Choe Myong-ho with club captain Phuong Soksana, while Reung Bunheing, who nabbed a midweek hat-trick in Army’s 8-0 Hun Sen Cup dismantling of Prey Veng Province, provided support in attack.
A goalless first half saw a slew of chances go begging for both sides. Bata, a former C-League Golden Boot winner at Preah Khan Svay Rieng FC, looked off the pace in the white of Boeung Ket, fumbling a left-footed effort straight at the Army keeper. At the other end, Myong-ho looked lively but was unable to breakthough the steely defensive pairing of Hong Pheng and Sok Sovan. The game sprang to life in the second, led by, Myong-ho and Kyong-hon Army’s duo of North Korean attacking imports.
Kyong-Hon broke the deadlock early in the second half, capitalising on the indecisive defending of the hosts to tap home in the 51st minute.
Myong-ho, a former Young Asian Player of the Year, consolidated the Armymen’s lead, continuing his rich vein of form – and making the most of a goalkeeping howler from Sou Yaty – to bury his seventh goal of the season, and Army’s second, in the 80th minute.
Boeung Ket hit back immediately through Gbenga, although it was too little too late as Army held on for a famous win – one that sees them maintain their 100 percent record and head the standings going into gameweek 5.
Elsewhere on Saturday, CMAC United, after taking an early second half lead through Un Ghi, capitulated to lose the tie 3-1 to Cambodian Tiger FC. A goal from Taing Sopheak and a brace from Tomoki Muramatsu put paid to CMAC, while the win saw Tiger record their second win of the season.
The C-league had kicked off gameweek 4 on Friday, where, in a repeat of the 2015 Hun Sen Cup final, saw Svay Rieng hand NagaWorld a second defeat of the season. A brace of strikes from Svay Rieng’s sprightly Ugandan-Rwandan forward Atuheire Kipson bookended a 57th minute Kouch Sokumpheak effort, to lead the hosts to a 2-1 win over the 2015 C-League playoff runners-up. The win moves the 2015 Hun Sen Cup winners into second-place in the league standings.
Crown Snatch Point
Phnom Penh Crown FC twice came from behind to snatch a point away to Western FC on Sunday, while Asia Europe United FC tallied their first point of the season in a goalless encounter at the National Olympic Stadium the same evening.
Western, who went into the game on the back of heavy defeats to Boeung Ket Angkor FC and C0 League leaders Ministry of National Defense FC, took the lead in the game’s 36th minute through a left-footed tap-in from Sem Bunny.
The second half saw Crown coach Oriol Mohedano ring the changes as he handed debuts to Yeu Muslim, aged 17, and Pov Ponvuthy ,18. Soon enough Crown were back on level terms as George Kelechi was able to equalise for the six-time C-League champions in the 58th minute, after linking up with fellow close-season recruit Thierry Neou to guide the ball past the onrushing Western keeper Sos Proshim. The goal was Kelechi’s first strike for his new club, signed in the close-season after a 22-goal haul for Asia Europe United FC in last season’s campaign.
Disaster then struck for Crown in the 77th minute as French defender Anthony Aymard, attempting a clearance, sent the ball into his own net restoring the lead for the hosts. With time running out, Crown piled on the pressure as Keo Sokngon and In Sodavid both came close to levelling the tie once more.
With a minute of normal time remaining Sokngon, receiving the ball from Sodavid, just inside the box, slammed home the thunderous equaliser and ensuring Crown a share of the points.
In Sunday’s other league tie, National Police FC and Asia Europe United FC both continue their search for a first league win of the season after cancelling each other out in an uneventful 0-0 draw at the National Olympic Stadium.
While the Police side saw more of the ball in an uneventful evening encounter, Police forward Michael Osei Tutu was ineffective in front of goal- a rare blip for the Ghanaian powerhouse forward. Pich Rovinyothin, holding fort in goal for the University side denied both Tutu and fellow striker Noun Borey, while at the other end of the pitch the Police defence arrested the threat of midfield ace Mohamed Hamza – unable to thread his trademark devastating throughballs to attackers Ugochukwu Obe and Ngwa Baldwin.
The stalemate leaves both sides hovering at the bottom half of the table, although a draw sees AEU record their first points of the season – in their fourth league game.