Metfone C-League season this afternoon, though Boeung Ket will be celebrating after starting their first-ever season in the top flight with a 3-1 victory. Both teams were parading a host of new faces, though it was Kirivong that caught everyone by surprise by including a trio of Egyptian players, as well as a couple of Vietnamese players, playing under their Khmer names. For the Egypt trio it was a game to quickly forget, but for Boeung Ket, with their squad packed with experienced players at this level, it was a good start. Before the game, the Rubbermen had been rocked when the federation announced at the eleventh hour that their three new signings from the Army were ineligible. Another ill-timed and crass decision from the FFC that has become their trademark in recent months. Undaunted, Boeung Ket set about their task with gusto from the kick-off and took the lead on five minutes in stunning fashion. Sumaila Momoh, rejected by Naga, picked up the ball 25 yards out and unleashed an unstoppable drive that sailed into the top corner. Kirivong's newly-arrived giant-framed stopper, Mohamed Magdy Abdalla, didn't even see it. In the 36th minute, referee Chi Samedy, in his first outing in the C-League, sparked a reaction from Kirivong that should bring them censure from the FFC. Samedy felt that Kirivong's Egyptian striker Mohamed Zaky, more recently in Thailand with Khonkaen and in Burma with Yangon, left his foot in on Lar Pichseyla and flashed a red card. Kirivong's coaching staff then waved their whole team off the field for five minutes in yet another petulant display that is becoming all too common in Cambodian football and needs to be addressed by the federation before it gets out of hand. They eventually returned to the fray but looked ineffectual and to add to their woes, Boeung Ket added a 2nd goal three minutes into time added on for their walk-off. Out of his box, and his comfort zone, goalkeeper Mohamed Magdy Abdalla got into a tizz with the ball at his feet and only managed to pass it straight to Keo Sokngorn, who duly lobbed it over his head and into the empty net.
With a two-goal half-time cushion, Boeung Ket took their foot of the gas and allowed Kirivong too much time and space, which they took advantage of on 68 minutes. Pech Seiha, a new Khmer name on the Kirivong teamsheet but quite obviously a Vietnamese import, had his ankle tapped as he crashed into the box by Daniel Omachoko, got up and scored from the resultant penalty kick. However, any hope of a comeback disappeared seven minutes later when Friday Nwakuna netted a fine individual effort for the Rubbermen, brushing off two defenders and toe-poking his shot into the roof of the net. Nwakuna had partnered Sokngorn up front for most of the game and looked effective in the role. It was all over for Kirivong but a minute into injury time Touch Sokheang made it worse when his disgraceful two-footed high tackle on Phoeun Saorum rightly earned him an instant dismissal. Two minutes later, referee Samedy brandished another red card, this time for Boeung Ket's Yob Romaton for an innocuous tackle on Ouk Thon. It hardly merited a yellow. The Kompong Cham-based team will be cock-a-hoop with their victory and will hope the FFC can get their house in order quickly to allow the three ex-Army players to play instead of twiddling their thumbs. In addition, the word on the street is that Naga's hitman from last season, Julius Oiboh, could be on the verge of joining them if they can find the funds to meet his wage demands. Now that would be a coup which could catapult the Rubbermen into championship contenders.