Phnom Penh Crown's Khim Borey (r) takes on a sliding Dilip Rai of Nepal Police Club during their AFC President's Cup match. Photograph: Sreng Meng Srun/Phnom Penh Post
Cambodian champions Phnom Penh Crown and their Kyrgyzstan counterparts Dordoi Dynamo confirmed their places in the final stage of the 2012 AFC President’s Cup with victories in their respective group games at Olympic Stadium yesterday.
Dordoi took full advantage of dry conditions in the earlier kickoff game, as a torrential downpour that began in the second half almost forced the cancellation of the following match.
The Bishkek outfit, who won the regional tournament in 2006 and 2007 and have been finalists on four other occasions, were a class above their opponents, Yeedzin FC of Bhutan, rolling out a commanding 11-2 win to secure their place at the summit of Group B.
Dordoi striker Mirlan Murzaev was once again the star of the show, adding to his hat-trick in the opening tie with a five-goal blitz against Yeedzin.
Murzaev’s colleagues Davron Askarov, David Tetteh, Anderson de Souza, Claude Kum Maka and Adyl Bekbolotov also got their names on the score sheet, while Chencho Gyeltshen and Tshering Wangdi netted consolations for the Bhutan side.
Crown’s match against Nepal Police Club needed its 4:30pm kickoff pushed back to 5pm to allow a waterlogged Olympic Stadium pitch to drain sufficiently from the downpour’s deluge.
Play was understandably at a much slower pace, with splashes accompanying most kicks and waves of attack being more literal than metaphoric.
Nevertheless, the home side managed to carve out a vital winner from the trusted boot of forward Khim Borey on 21 minutes to give the 3,500 reported fans in attendance something to brighten up their day.
It was Khim Borey’s fourth goal of the Cup campaign.
Crown hit the framework no less than five times in the second half, and survived a nerve-jangling finish to ensure they advanced from the group along with Dordoi.
The top two finishers face each other in their remaining fixture at 4:30pm tomorrow to be played purely for pride, affording the winners no advantage in the next phase.
Yeedzin and Nepal Police Club will clash in the 1:30pm game tomorrow in a battle of wooden-spoon avoidance.
The final stage of the 2012 AFC President’s Cup will be played in September at a venue to be chosen from one of the four qualifiers.
Groups A and C are three-team affairs, with only the top team in each progressing.
In the Group C match at the Republican Central Stadium in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, yesterday, home side Istiklol FC edged Palestinian rivals Al Amma’ri Youth Club 1-0 to snatch the lead in the standings.
Defender Davronjon Ergashev scored the game’s decisive strike on 75 minutes.
Istiklol require just a draw against Balkan FC of Turkmenistan tomorrow to book a place in the finals.
Group A kicks off today in Lahore, Pakistan, with a match between hosts KRL and Mongolian side Erchim.
To contact the reporter on this story: Dan Riley at [email protected]