Brazilian Diego Gama and Rwandan Autheire Kipson combined forces in the NagaWorld attack to deal Ministry of National Defence a crushing 3-0 defeat in their Metfone C-League tie at Old Stadium on Saturday evening.
In Takeo, bottom of the table side Kirivong Sok Sen Chey grabbed the spotlight with a last-minute equaliser against six-time champions Phnom Penh Crown.
The pre-match expectations of a dogged fight between two arch rivals did not quite come to pass as a strangely subdued Army were overwhelmed by NagaWorld’s consistently good combination play centred around Gama and Kipson.
The famed North Korean component which had been serving the side so efficiently this season failed to deliver its usual punch for Army, leaving the side to often look pedestrian and purposeless.
Barely had the game come to life when Diego Gama raced into the Army box to fire the first salvo, catching the scattered defenders off-guard and beating national U22 keeper Um Sereyroth.
Boosted by the early goal, Naga kept pushing forwards, and Kipson, who began the season in style with a four-goal haul, doubled the lead with the easiest of headers in the 23rd minute.
The first sign of a fightback from Army came when the side won a free kick from the edge of the box, but Choe Myong-ho found the defensive wall in the way. Later in the half, Ri Hyok-chol failed to beat Naga goalkeeper Yok Ary from close quarters after reaching out to convert a cross.
These isolated attempts apart, Army could make no further headway as Naga controlled the tempo of the game to their liking.
The second half was no different, with Naga dominating and Army struggling to get into the game.
Midway through the half, the casino-backed side made absolutely certain of the three points when Kipson slotted in for his second goal, driving Army to the points.
The victory took Naga’s tally to 29 points and into clear second place behind leaders Preah Khan Reach Svay Rieng, who have 31 points and a game against Electricite du Cambodge in hand.
Beaten 6-1 when they last met Crown at the RSN Stadium in the season’s first round, Kirivong were facing the prospect of another defeat after the consistent Shane Booysen gave the visitors to Takeo an eighth-minute lead.
Even though Crown created numerous chances to cushion the lead, the home side managed to avoid further damage and, in a sensational move a minute before the end of regulation time, Phanna levelled the scores.
The draw leaves Crown on 28 points, currently third in the league table.
Away in Siem Reap, Cambodia Tiger FC proved too strong for Asia Euro United, winning their home fixture 4-0. Pov Phearith, who is on loan from Army, scored a double to complement Nigerian Okereke Timothy’s brace.