In a thrilling climax to the 2017 Metfone C-League season, Boeung Ket retained the championship after a pitched battle lasting nearly 135 minutes and two sets of dramatic penalties against the National Defence Ministry.
The defending champions eventually won 10-9 to break the 1-1 regulation and extra-time deadlock.
An early goal by defender Sok Sovann from a Maycon Calijuri corner saw Boeung Ket into the lead at the Olympic Stadium on Saturday evening, but the never-say-die Army fought back, North Korean Kim Kyong-hun producing a screamer of a leveller in the 69th minute.
From then on it was trench warfare, in which Army showed signs of seizing control, but an equally resilient Boeung Ket refused to cede an inch.There were agonising misses for both sides.
Ri Hyok-chol hit the far post, his compatriot Cho Myong-ho saw his shot sail over the bar and Boeung Ket goalkeeper Sou Yaty was on top form.
Yet the best chance to wrap up victory without the agony of a penalty shootout was blown by the man wearing the Boeung Ket captain’s armband, Khoun Laboravy, who chipped the ball too finely when Army goalkeeper Um Sereyroth was at his mercy.
The sides completed the 30 minutes of extra-time without making any headway, inevitably driving the finish to the cruel lottery of penalties.
Boeung Ket top scorer Calijuri banged in the first spot kick only to see Laboravy feebly hit the next straight at keeper Sereyroth.
But the Army joy lasted only for a few anxious moments before Ri smashed his kick onto the woodwork. To make matters worse Jang Song-hyok found Yaty in the way as Boeung Ket heaved a huge sigh of relief after Sok Sovann had driven the ball wide.
At 3-3 it was back to the horrors of another round.
Apart from Esoh Omogba, who hit the post, seven of the eight Boeung Ket players including Sou Yaty got it right, while Kim crucially missed.
It meant that, at 10-9, Army’s fate was solely in the hands of the most reliable and prolific scorer of the season, Cho. But he cracked under pressure as Yaty read the Korean’s drive to perfection, palming the ball away to ensure a sensational win for his side.
Yaty emerged as the man of the match, while a crestfallen Army were left wondering what a disappointing end it must have been for the North Korean quartet who had done so well throughout the season until right at the end.
So another great triumph for Boeung Ket and more final day pain for Army two seasons in a row.
The team awards for the top finishers as well as individual prizes including the Golden Boot will be awarded at a special gathering reportedly on Koh Pich on January 25.