Colombo: Rimyongsu Club booked their place in the AFC President's Cup final with a comfortable 4-0 win over Sheikh Russel Krira Chakra Limited of Bangladesh in Wednesday's final Group B tie at Sugathadasa Stadium.
Ri Jin-hyok opened the scoring after 30 minutes for the North Korean club before captain Pak Song-chol netted a sublime free-kick before the half-time break. Ro Hak-su and Kim Kyong-il then added further goals in the second half to give Rimyongsu a second convincing victory of the tournament after they had crushed FC Erchim of Mongolia 5-0 on Monday.
As a result, Rimyongsu top Group B with six points, with Sheikh Russel runners-up a further three behind and Erchim, without a point, bottom of the table.
Rimyongsu will now advance to Friday's final to play the winner of Group A for the right to be named the last-ever AFC President's Cup champion.
"We had a lot of confidence after our first match and this gave us a good base for today's game with the players putting on a similarly pleasing performance," said Rimyongsu coach Jo Tong-sop.
"Pak is very skilful on free-kicks, he practices a lot, and he's always our main set-piece taker. We know if there is any dead-ball within striking distance then he will always be a threat.
"We will now study our possible opponents for the final and work on any potential weaknesses. Both teams have to ensure they are prepared to our maximum for the championship game."
Despite coming into the winner-takes-all tie just 48 hours since they kicked off their opening match, Rimyongsu were the more adventurous side from the start, with Sheikh Russel looking to sit deep and hit target-man Kingsley Chigozie with long balls from the back.
Pak, who had scored a stunning free-kick against Erchim, gave early warning of his threat from set-pieces on 14 minutes with an in-swinging effort from near the left-hand corner flag that forced an athletic save from Sheikh Russel goalkeeper Mamun Khan, clawing the ball away from under his crossbar.
And Khan was called into action just five minutes later, as he pulled off a double save to deny first Ri Sang-chol and then the onrushing Ri Hyok following up on the loose ball.
But on the half-hour mark, Rimyongsu's relentless pressure finally told as Ri Jin-hyok latched onto a low, skimming cross from Ri Chang-ho with a flying header that left Khan helpless for the striker's third goal in two games.
And on the stroke of half-time, Rimyongsu doubled their lead after Rezaul Karim fouled Pak 20-yards out of goal and the skipper dusted himself off before punishing the infringement in the most clinical fashion: a sumptuous strike that flew into the top-right hand corner with Khan rooted to his line.
Rimyongsu made the score line 3-0 just five minutes after the re-start as full-back Ro's smart combination with Ri Sang-chol saw the former played through on goal and he finished confidently past Khan.
Substitute Kim further increased the lead before the hour mark as Karim, wary of his earlier booking, backed off the striker who advanced into the penalty area and, despite stumbling momentarily, was able to slam the ball home for his side's fourth goal of the afternoon.
With Sheikh Russel now facing a mammoth task, and the heat beginning to take its toll on both sides, Rimyongsu were able to comfortably see out the remaining minutes of the match to seal another impressive victory and march on to Friday's final.
"I didn't expect a score line like this; we made a few mistakes and got punished. Rimyongsu are a very strong side and that's why they are going to the final," said Sheikh Russel coach Sheikh Mohammad Zakaria.
"We learnt a lot from this tournament and we will take on board these lessons and we will improve in the future."