Preah Khan Reach’s David Njoku (L) sticks out a leg to tackle Boeung Ket Rubber Field’s Julius Oiboh during their Metfone C-League Super 4 playoff semifinal yesterday at Olympic Stadium. Photograph: Sreng Meng Srun/Phnom Penh Post
Debut season sensations Boeung Ket Rubber Field will take on former champions Naga Corp in the Metfone C-League title decider on Saturday following yesterday’s semifinal action at Olympic Stadium, which swung between the bizarre and the brilliant as the two took contrasting routes to the final.
In a highly volatile encounter, Boeung Ket produced three extra-time goals to down eight-man Preah Khan Reach 4-1 after the sides had battled to a 1-1 stalemate at the end of regulation time.
In the second semifinal, Naga and National Police Commissary were locked goalless in a 120-minute war of attrition, during which both sides had their fair share of missed chances. When 30 minutes of extra time failed to produce a goal, the sides were forced into a penalty shootout.
It was here that Naga found their man of the moment, goalkeeper Phorn Ratana. Disaster struck the Police when Nuth Sinoun and Ol Ravy were both expertly foiled by Ratana.
With that huge advantage behind them, Naga saw Kop Isa and Oum Thavarak bang on target to take a 2-0 advantage. Srey Odom then clicked for National Police to make it 2-1. Teab Vathanak stretched the Naga lead to 3-1 and it was all over for the Police when Joel Omaraka fired his spot kick miles wide.
Naga coach Prak Sovanara was full of praise for what he called the bravery of Phorn Ratana, who had stood his ground well during some tense moments in both regulation and extra-time.
“It was a tough game and our prime target is to regain the league championship we last won in 2009,” the coach told the Post.
The controversial contest between Boeung Ket and PKR will be long remembered as much for striker Julius Oiboh’s individual brilliance that set up his side’s win as for PKR’s self destruction and gung-ho approach that resulted in three players being sent off.
The Hun Sen Cup winners’ overindulgence in trying to patrol Oiboh came at an enormous cost with three players getting needlessly physical.
It was PKR who shot into an early lead when David Njoku took an opportunistic strike in the thick of action inside the box. But it didnt take Boeung Ket long to get even. Oiboh, who was last season’s golden boot winner when playing for Naga, weaved a little magic of his own with a well-struck free kick.
PKR, who were fighting on even terms for nearly an hour, suffered a major setback as defender Sok Rithy picked up two yellow cards in a matter of minutes going after the Nigerian striker.
Adekunjo Busayo was slapped with two yellow cards and dismissal at the start of extra-time and the third to leave the field for the Military Police-backed club was Prak Mony Odom, who lashed out his leg at Oiboh.
As PKR were busy fighting their own emotions, African import Momoh Degule found the go-ahead goal for the Kampong Cham outfit and Hong Makara cushioned it even further.
At 3-1, Boeung Ket apparently had the game sewn up. Oiboh turned a seemingly innocuous move into a thrilling one-man show when he worked his way around three defenders to nail the fourth goal for the side and celebrate his own double.
There were questions flying around the stadium over the eligibility factor involving Oiboh, who as recently as two weeks ago was playing for Rangsit FC in the Thai First Division. But the star striker’s take on the issue was totally different.
“I played my last game and I have got a clearance letter from the Thai Federation. It is accepted by the Football Federation of Cambodia,” Oiboh told the Post yesterday.
to contact the reporter on this story: H S Manjunath at firstname.lastname@example.org