Heavy rain wreaked havoc and delayed the afternoon kick-off in the capital by nearly 40 minutes on Wednesday evening, but it hardly dampened NagaWorld’s spirits after their 2-0 win over rivals Boeung Ket in their first leg of the Hun Sen Cup quarterfinals.
After the worst had passed and the lights blazed, Cup holders Preah Khan Reach Svay Rieng wore down Ministry of Defense 2-1.
Last year’s beaten finalists had the defending league champions on the run for the best part, scoring a goal in each half to assert themselves.
With Army endng their unbeaten run in the league last Friday, Boeung Ket – who are yet to win the Cup in six attempts – were simply no match for Naga who are looking for their second triumph after missing out at the final hurdle no less than five times.
In his debut year, Naga coach Meas Channa had to settle for a runners-up berth but he is eager to bring home the prestigious piece of silverware.
But the coach struck a cautiously optimistic note after the victory, saying his team still had a job to finish and that defending the first leg advantage would be top priority.
Run Rany’s goal just before the break gave Naga the advantage, before Sari Mat Norotin was on the mark in the 84th minute to seal the deal for Naga.
Few matchups produce the intensity and drama of the kind Army and Svay Rieng almost always come up with. Once again it was a game where no quarter was sought nor given, but Svay Rieng showed greater resolve than their rivals and were rewarded.
Hoy Phalin, whose ban for his involvement in the league fracas did not impact his participation in the Cup, gave Svay Rieng a 27th minute lead, but Army hit back with a Sok Heang penalty just before the break.
However, Saret Krya’s goal past the hour mark proved decisive for Svay Rieng, making the return clash between them even more interesting.