Ministry of National Defense produced two quick goals during extra time to shatter NagaWorld’s dream of a unique double in domestic football by beating last year’s runners-up and current league leaders 3-1 at Olympic Stadium in the first semifinal of the prestigious Hun Sen Cup on Saturday evening.
Army, aiming for their third triumph following their 2010 and 2016 successes, will meet the winner of Sunday evening’s second semifinal between National Police and the Siem Reap-based Angkor Tiger.
When Nhim Sovannara scored as early as the ninth minute, Naga set the tempo of the match, but Sok Heang’s 31st minute goal for Army brought greater intensity to the game.
With neither side making any further headway before the break, Army began the second session on a positive note, taking control of the possession and forcing more gaps in the Naga ranks to work their way through.
Despite being on the back foot in this period, it was Naga who threatened a breakthrough in the 70th minute with Sos Suhana’s shot seemingly on target until it hit the woodwork, with Army keeper Um Sereyroth clearing.
Yet another save by Sereyrath off a Suong Virak shot in the box kept Army morale high even as their own Narong Kakada had a clear look at the goal before a Naga defender closed him down.
When Sary Matnorotin was boxed in behind an Army defender trying to reach a prominent cross by Suhana, it was fast becoming a story of regret for Naga.
Army showed more vigour in their attempts and hassled the backline near the box, taking advantage of the fact that their rivals had opted to defend much deeper in their own half rather than counterattack.
With the scoreboard showing 1-1 after normal time, in extra time Army powered into a 2-1 lead from an unlikely source – defender Sor Piseth.
The experienced Chhin Chhoeun ended the tie after dribbling his way past Naga defenders Nhim Sovannara and Mao Buntha and expertly guiding the ball over Cambodia goalkeeper Sou Yaty, who joined Naga during the second half of the season from league champions Boeung Ket.