Relief more than jubilation marked Boeung Ket Angkor’s 1-0 win over Magwe FC from Myanmar in their first-leg Group F tie of the AFC Cup at the Olympic Stadium yesterday evening.
Having lost to Malaysia’s Johor Darul Ta’zaim (0-3) and Global FC from Philippines (0-2), the reigning Cambodian league champions were hard pressed for their first win and it was delivered in style by midfielder Ly Mizan, who struck the only goal of the match in the 32nd minute.
It required goalkeeper Sou Yaty’s outstanding show between the Boeung Ket sticks to ensure a clean sheet as the visitors saw Set Phyo Wai dismissed with a red card for his rough tackle on Maycon Calijuri on the stroke of regulation time.
The hardest working player on the pitch was Boeung Ket playmaker Tomoki Muramutsu, who apart from rattling the Magwe defence a few of times on his own, seemed to be everywhere.
It was his corner that triggered a sequence in which his fellow Japanese-import Hikaru Mizuno headed into the crowded box and Ly Mizan pounced on the ball quickest to guide it home.
Minutes earlier, Muramutsu had driven wide after a terrific one-two with Brazilian Maycon Calijuri, whose return from injury reinforced the Boeung Ket front line.
The first serious test for Yaty had been in the first few minutes of the game when Magwe spearhead Sylla Sekou from Guinea found the Boeung Ket keeper in the way of a firm goal-bound shot from well inside the box.
But of greater significance was the way Yaty prevented a disastrous own goal by tipping over a headed back-pass from his own teammate Ly Wahed to make certain that his team went into the break with a one-goal advantage.
It was once again Sylla Sekou who kept troubling the Boeung Ket back line in the second half, but it was up to Yaty to find an acrobatic response to a well-struck free-kick from Hein Zar Aung.
Towards the closing stages, Muramutsu looked well on his way to doubling the lead with a solo run through the middle, but in the nick of time Magwe defender Michael Henry stuck out his right foot to divert the final shot.
Magwe are the only team without a win in the group having lost 0-1 to Global and drawn 1-1 through a late equaliser against Johor Darul.
The two sides will play the second leg in Myanmar on April 2.