Whatever the world may think of North Korea’s weapons programme, National Defence Ministry FC have been thriving this season on the firepower that their strikers from the hermit state have been generating when it matters most.
In a spectacular upset of Preah Khan Reach Svay Rieng, who had led the league campaign almost all the way, Army humbled the provincial heavyweights 3-1 in their backyard on the back of North Korean hitman Kim Kyong-hun’s brace and compatriot Choe Myong-hoe’s penalty deep in injury time. Prak Mony Udom scored for Svay Rieng just past the hour mark.
Army, narrowly beaten to Metfone C-league honours last year by Boeung Ket, scraped past NagaWorld in a penalty shootout in the first playoff on Wednesday, and they shook off any fatigue in the second knockout game against Svay Rieng yesterday to go on to face Boeung Ket in the 2017 championship decider on December 30.
Army make it to the championship showdown after a late surge saw them make the four-team cut after having lost their way in the final stages of the second round of league matches.
Army ‘s home and away successes against Phnom Penh Crown tipped the balance in their favour to make the playoffs as six-time champs Crown were level on points after upsetting Svay Rieng in the final game and had superior goal difference after Army were beaten by the Commissary of National Police.
Army made the trip to Svay Rieng with the intention of overcoming a tough hurdle in PKR to stay within reach of finally achieving their decade-long goal of winning the championship.
As each side preyed on the other’s weaknesses for the first half-hour, Army began to find more space and Kim eventually found the mark. A short time later he outwitted the PKR defence to double the lead.
With the home side fighting to stay in the match, it fell to star winger Udom‘s 69th minute goal to revive PKR hopes.
But Choe, leading the Army charge since the start of the season, killed off the contest with a late penalty to seal a well-earned Army victory.