Cambodia qualified for the group stage of the AFC Challenge Cup this evening, by the skin of their teeth. It doesn't come any closer than the 5-4 aggregate win they achieved when Sam El Nasa came off the bench after an hour and netted the deciding goal 17 minutes into extra time. South Korean coach Lee Tae-Hoon will have had kittens after watching Khim Borey head his team into the lead in time added on in the first half of normal time, only to see his side concede 3 second-half goals that wiped out their first leg advantage. From such a strong position, to concede like that beggars belief. Nevertheless, extra time arrived with the scores pegged at 4-4 and it was the veteran striker Sam El Nasa that rescued Cambodia's Challenge Cup hopes with the match-winning goal.
Lee Tae-Hoon caused a ripple of surprise when he chose Touch Pancharong and Chan Rithy ahead of the experienced heads of San Narith and Sam El Nasa to start the 2nd leg in Macau, in front of a paltry 100 spectators and a very cool evening. Khim Borey had been restored to the starting line-up in favour of Prak Mony Udom and rewarded his coach with the opening goal from close range in time added on after 47 minutes. As they did in Phnom Penh, Macau refused to lie down and came back strongly after the break. Vernon Wong netted just after the hour, before two goals in as many minutes threw the tie wide open again. Both goals were scored by substitutes, Ka Hang Leong on 73 minutes and Vinicio Alves two minutes later after an awful backpass. The teams were all square and neither side could break the deadlock before the Sri Lankan referee, Perera, who flashed 7 yellow cards in the game, blew for full-time. With all substitutions already made, it was left to the men on the pitch and it was the most experienced of campaigners, El Nasa, that came up trumps for Cambodia with his 107th minute headed winner from San Narith's cross. Coach Lee will have breathed the biggest sigh of relief possible, squeezing through on aggregate despite losing to Macau for the first time, 3-2.
Cambodia line-up: Mic, Raksmey (Narith 38), Pancharong, Tiny, Piseth, Sopanha (Sokngorn 72), Sothearath, C Rithy, Borey (El Nasa 61), Sokumpheak, Laboravy. Subs not used: Bunchhay, T Udom, Soun Veasna, PM Udom, Pheng, Soksana. Bookings: Tiny, Borey, Sokngorn, Narith.