After months of its multi-stage elimination process, Cambodia’s only open club football tournament is heading for its climax on December 27 after previous winners Preah Khan Reach Svay Rieng and NagaWorld earned the right to fight for the much coveted Hun Sen Cup on a drama-filled Sunday night.
The last two teams standing among the 34 club/provincial aspirants aiming for the prestigious piece of domestic football silverware came through intensely fought second-leg semifinal encounters to set up the final showdown.
Both Naga and Svay Rieng are still in the hunt for the Metfone C-League title playoffs but cup success is an honour and pride neither of them will give up without a stiff fight.
It was a theatrical two-act play on Sunday. One at the Olympic Stadium between NagaWorld and newly crowned league winners Boeung Ket. Naga won 4-2 on aggregate.
The other was at the Svay Rieng Stadium between local giants PKR and new entrants to the premier league this season Electricite du Cambodge. Following their 2-2 first-leg draw, the sides were level 1-1 at regulation time, but Svay Rieng dominated extra-time by hitting three without reply for a 6-3 aggregate win.
Defender Nhim Sovannara’s only goal had given Naga a 1-0 first-leg advantage. But that was quickly neutralised when Khoun Laboravy struck early for Boeung Ket.
But when Sos Suhana was brought down by the Boeung Ket defence to concede a penalty, the casino-backed side cashed in through Kouch Dani’s spot-kick.
With no quarter asked for nor given, the stage was set for a tough battle, but a Suhana brace came at the ideal time for Naga and effectively ended the contest.
A consolation Laboravy goal couldn’t stop Naga, who will be attempting to win the Cup for the second time after their 2013 triumph.
EdC make PKR work
In sharp contrast, EdC made their illustrious rivals Svay Rieng stretch every sinew, and PKR, who have won the cup more times than any other club, found the first-seasoners tough to handle.
An audacious free-kick from Rasmey gave EdC a dream opening for an upset. But Svay Rieng levelled through Nub Tola to force extra-time.
A goal from the ball hitting the inside of the crossbar and landing over the goalline saw Svay Rieng take the lead and they went on to punish some clumsy defending from EdC to make the scoreline read more commandingly than it was in reality.