After a 120 minutes filled with misses, frayed tempers, a spate of injuries and 16 penalties, Reung Bunheing slammed home the winning spot-kick in a 6-5 shootout victory over holders Preah Khan Reach Svay Rieng to see Ministry of National Defense lift the the Hun Sen Cup at Olympic Stadium on Saturday evening.
Svay Rieng found remarkable courage to find a late equaliser to the Army’s 80th minute goal and then survived a blitz during the 30 minute extra-time. Yet it all ended when a visibly nervous Chea Samnang struck the crossbar at 5-5 after both sides had been guilty of shocking misses
With a strike the rangy midfielder and the team will probably cherish forever, Bunheing navigated the fine line between triumph and tragedy to give the Armymen their second Cup success after a gap of six years.
Ironically, it was in a shoot-out that the Armymen had gone down the last time they were in a final three years ago against NagaWorld. The heat of the battle was so intense that penalties after 120 minutes seemed an almost intolerable demand for the overstretched players.
There were an unusually high number of injuries for Svay Rieng, and the most jarring had been the loss of attacking spearhead Prak Mony Odom just minutes after the whistle.Though the better part of regulation time saw lively exchanges and sturdy goalkeeping at both ends, by Om Sereyroth for the Army and Oum Outdom for Svay Rieng, the game only really came alive in the final 10 minutes.
It was the unmarked Bunheing who had made the most of a frenzy in the Svay Rieng box to drill home the first goal of the evening. But that joy was short lived as Sareth Kriya hit a stunning volley off a Moun Nara delivery two minutes before the end.
The two 15-minute spells of extra time were dominated by Army, who found Oum Outdom giving nothing away.When the penalties were called, it was Outdom who stepped in first for Svay Rieng, knocking the ball in past his counterpart Sereyroth.
At 2-2 came the first Svay Rieng slip, when Hoy Phallin chipped over the bar. But then Op Kamol’s attempt was saved by Outdom.
After another set of successful kicks to make it 4-4, Svay Rieng’s Prak Sovann-piseth drove the ball straight to Sereyroth, and the Army keeper, sensing the kill, took the next spot kick himself.
He should have won the game for his side but the young national side keeper, perhaps burdened by the huge expectation, shot over the bar.
Svay Rieng celebrated that reprieve with Sareth Kriya’s confident take to make it 5-4, only to see Sor Piseth level the scores for Army at 5-5. Then Samnang stepped up only to hit the bar, before Bunheing killed off the game.
The match will be remembered for the striking image of Sereyroth in tears afterwards.After being consoled by his teammates, Sereyroth recovered his poise to receive an individual award of 1 million riel as keeper of the tournament.
Suong Virak of the Cambodian Tiger FC was the tournament’s highest scorer with 21 goals and picked up a cash reward of 1 million riel.Earlier in the afternoon, Phnom Penh Crown edged out CMAC United 1-0 on the back of In Sodavid’s 87th minute goal in the the third place playoff.
Crown received 20 million riel for winning the clash between the losing semifinalists and an additional 5 million riel for taking the fair play award.Aside from the glittering trophy, the Army outfit was richer by 80 million riel, while runners-up Svay Rieng’s share of the prize money was 40 million riel.
During the awards presentation, it was announced that Prime Minister Hun Sen had made a personal contribution of $50,000 to the Football Federation of Cambodia.