Cambodia line-up: [Back Row LtoR]: Mic, Nasa, Tiny, S Rithy, Pheng, Sopanha. [Front Row]: Rady, Sothearith, Pancharong, Sokumpheak, PM UdomCambodia ended their Group C games in the AFC Challenge Cup tonight with a bang, going down 4-3 to the former Russian Republic of Kyrgyzstan. Head coach Lee Tae-Hoon tinkered with his starting line-up again and for this consolation rubber, made five changes from the previous match. The game started badly as usual, with Cambodia allowing their opponents to gain the upper hand with a goal from Aziz Sydykov after just 4 minutes. On the back foot again. A headed goal from Kouch Sokumpheak on 38 minutes looked likely to take the teams in level at the interval until a Rustem Usanov header in time added on gave the Kyrgyz the advantage at the break. Not to be outdone, Sokumpheak stepped up to the mark again, 3 minutes into the 2nd half to level it at 2-2. In what sounds like an intriguing encounter, there was some controversy over the third Kyrgyz goal on 79 minutes by substitute Cholponbek Esenkul and the same player netted again 5 minutes later to put them firmly in front. A Sok Rithy header 2 minutes from time caused some flutters but Cambodia couldn't find a way back and succumbed 4-3 at the final whistle. Cambodia's team: Mic, Rady, Pancharong (T Udom 84), S Rithy, Tiny, Sopanha (Veasna 75), Sothearath, PM Udom, Sokumpheak, Nasa, Pheng (Laboravy 48). Subs not used: Bunchhay, Piseth, C Rithy, Chhoeurn. Attendance: 1,000.
After the match, coach Lee offered these pearls of wisdom to the assembled press. "Compared to the previous two games, we played very well tonight. That's sign of improvement. We had just four days to practice together before travelling to the Maldives. We failed to score in the last two games but tonight we scored, which is good." Can someone remind the coach that he had the players together for months, not days, prior to this competition. Also, you need to score goals to win any game, but if he paid more attention to his team's defending and not conceding early goals, then that would be the starting point. In each of the three games Cambodia gave themselves a mountain to climb by letting in very early goals, something which the coach fails to mention. The Kyrgyz camp had a different take on the game. Murat, their assistant coach said; "We made so many changes for this game. Though we won, we are not happy with the result and the performance. Cambodia tried hard and they scored from every chance they created." Earlier in the evening, hosts Maldives drew 0-0 with Tajikistan to claim top spot in the group on goal difference. Both teams progress through to the finals next year. Cambodia do not.