Last season’s runners-up Ministry of National Defence posted an impressive 3-0 victory over defending champions Boeung Ket Angkor on the back of North Korean hitman Choe Myong-ho’s brace in their Metfone-C League tie at the Olympic Stadium on Wednesday evening.
The victory came as a boost for the Armymen, who are in search of a maiden league title, having failed in their attempt last year to overhaul Boeung Ket in a close race that was ultimately decided by a single point.
In what was perceived as a grudge match, the Armymen were sitting pretty with a three-goal cushion after the first 30 minutes of the game, leaving their rivals with an uphill struggle.
Though the Armymen never relaxed their grip, a chasing Boeung Ket managed to keep the deficit down in the second half, needing goalkeeper Kim Makara to pull off a spectacular save to deprive Choe a hat-trick.
Within the first 10 minutes, Choe broke the Boeung Ket defence first with a tidy left-foot finish on the run after shaking off a couple of defenders and then expertly guiding a bouncing high ball home.
Taking inspiration from the North Korean and his clever back-heeled pass, Chreng Polroth beat Boeung Ket keeper Makara to put his side in an impregnable position long before the breather.
With a huge challenge ahead of them, Boeung Ket put up a spirited fight in the second half, though they were once again let down by poor finishing.
Brazilian Maycon Calijuri found his fierce free-kick from the edge of the box fisted away by Army keeper Om Sereyroth, who accounted for a few more timely saves, including body-blocking Khoun Laboravy’s close range attempt in the closing stages.
It was to be another frustrating day for Laboravy, who had a couple of near misses after having seen colleague Omogba thwarted at least twice.
It was not the build-up Boeung Ket would have wanted ahead of their Tuesday home clash with Global FC in the AFC Cup at the Olympic Stadium.
In the lead-up to that crucial game, however, Boeung Ket meet Cambodia Tiger on Saturday hoping for a positive outcome at the same venue in a league tie on Saturday.
Asia Europe United v Army, Old Stadium, 3pm
Boeung Ket v Cambodia Tiger, Olympic Stadium, 6pm
Electricite du Cambodge v Kirivong Sok Sen Chey, Svay Rieng Stadium, 6pm
Western Phnom Penh v Preah Khan Reach, Western Stadium, 3pm
NagaWorld v CMAC, Olympic Stadium 6pm
Phnom Penh Crown v National Police, RSN Stadium 6pm