Saturday, September 15, 2012

Rubbermen clean up

Boeung Ket collect the Metfone C-League trophy
Everything fell into place for the Rubbermen from Kompong Cham today, with Boeung Ket claiming the top prize, the Metfone C-League championship, with a 3-1 play-off final win over the rightful champions, NagaCorp. They also collected the top goalscorer, coach, best player and goalkeeper awards in a virtual clean sweep of the end of season prizes in what is their first season in the top flight, while Naga collected the runners-up and fairplay cheques. Naga will feel rightly aggrieved that they weren't crowned champions after winning the 18-game domestic campaign but the federation had decided to reintroduce the Super 4 play-offs this season and that handed the advantage to Boeung Ket, who introduced their joker in the pack, Julius Oiboh for the final two deciding matches. The surprise move worked a treat, both Preah Khan and Naga were quaking in their boots at the sight of the Nigerian hitman and in today's final, it was all over bar the shouting even with Boeung Ket going down to ten-men after just 26 minutes. They were already two goals ahead, but the momentum was with them and with a strong defensive showing and Oiboh looking a danger every time he touched the ball, they ran out easy winners.
Boeung Ket had the luxury of leaving the C-League's top scorer Friday Nwakuna in the stands and instead selected Oiboh for the second game running, after the striker's arrival on loan from Thai club Rangsit for the play-off games had given the Rubbermen a massive confidence boost. Oiboh was the C-League's top scorer last year whilst with Naga but had no qualms about facing his former teammates in today's final. With early afternoon rain leaving the pitch wet underfoot, BK took the lead after 13 minutes. Naga keeper Phorn Ratana had raced out of his area to foul Oiboh and get himself a yellow card. Keo Sokngorn's inswinging free-kick took a wicked deflection off the top of Neang Chenla's head and gave his own keeper no chance. Four minutes later and Sokngorn capped a finely-balanced sprint into the box with a delicate chip over Ratana and Beoung Ket were well and truly in the driving seat. Referee Thong Chankethya, always keen to make his mark on a game, handed Naga a lifeline when he brandished a red card in the face of BK's Sin Dalin after a 50/50 sliding tackle which left San Narith clutching his shin. It was a harsh decision in anyone's book. A few minutes later and a dangerously high challenge by Naga's Tiet Chandarasokha on Sokngorn looked considerably worse, though the defender was merely cautioned. A crucial miss by Narith on the half-hour was Naga's best chance to grab a lifeline and with BK leading 2-nil at the interval, the writing was on the wall.
A minute into the second half and BK made certain of their play-off final success. Oiboh easily skated past Chenla and fired low and hard inside the near post to put his most recent employers three goals ahead and sink Naga's faint hopes. As heavy rain made conditions worse, it was Oiboh again who had the crowd on its feet when he left Chenla in his wake but squirmed his shot wide when he seemed destined to net another trademark solo goal. Boeung Ket's solid defensive backline thwarted Naga until two minutes into time added on when Chuon Chum poked home after good approach work by Prak Chanratana, and was promptly booked for pulling his shorts down. It was referee Chankethya's sixth booking of the afternoon to add to one red card. He quickly blew for full time and signalled the start of the Rubbermen's mud-coated pitchside celebrations. BK coach Prak Vuthy collected the coach of the season award while goalkeeper Peng Bunchhay picked up his 2nd successive keeper of the year prize and his third consecutive C-League winners medal. Keo Sokngorn was a surprise choice as player of the year, having collected the same award two years earlier, while his teammate Friday Nwakuna put any disappointment for being overlooked for the crucial play-off games behind him, by collecting the Golden Boot award with 20 goals. It capped a dramatic debut season C-League championship success for the provincial club.
Boeung Ket line-up. Back LtoR: Bunchhay, Dalin, Oiboh, Momoh, Ravy, Sokngorn. Front: Ohuruogu, Sokheng, Kumpheak, Vibol, Pancharong

Naga line-up. Back LtoR: Chum, Chenla, Sopanha, Chanratana, Lawal, Vathanak. Front: Nwafor, Chandarasokha, Ratana, Narith, Sothearith

Referee Thong Chankethya in typical tossing pose with captains Sokngorn (blue) and Vathanak

No comments: