The Cambodian starting XI v Laos: Back Row LtoR: Mic, Sopanha, Rithy, Tiny, Laboravy, Rady. Front Row: Chhoeurn, El Nasa, Pancharong, Sokumpheak, Sothearath [pic Ung Chamroeun]Final score: Laos 6 Cambodia 2 (aet). The worst possible start for the Cambodian national team in Laos in their World Cup qualifier, with the home side taking the lead on 19 minutes through Lamnao Singto, restored to the attack, despite looking a bit overweight in the first leg, when he came on as a late sub. Cambodia led4-2 from the 1st leg and needed to keep Laos quiet at the start of this 2nd leg. They didn't. Laos went two-ahead on the half-hour when lanky striker Khampheng Sayavutthi netted a header to put Laos level on aggregate and ahead on the away goals rule. But Cambodia came steaming back with a goal from Chin Chhoeurn to make it 2-1 on the stroke of half-time. Cambodia lead 5-4 on aggregate. 45 minutes to go. This is making me dizzy. Laos scored again 2 minutes into the 2nd half through Souliya Syphasay to make it 3-1 and 5-5 on aggregate, with Laos ahead on away goals, again. Why do we insist on conceding early goals? On 55 minutes Lamnao Singto grabbed his 2nd and Laos' fourth to go 4-1 ahead though if Cambodia score again, it will be all-square, on aggregate. Talk about topsy-turvy, edge of the seat stuff. Would you believe it, Cambodia have scored a 2nd, through Kouch Sokumpheak on 75 minutes and though it's 4-2 to Laos it's 6-6 on aggregate, and away goals all square. There's got to be more to come...in fact there will be 30 more minutes with extra time already underway. 4 minutes into extra time and Laos storm back in front, 5-2, through Visay Phaphouvanin, who replaced Lamnao Singto a minute before the end of normal time. That's what I mean about substitutes that can change a match. On 112 minutes Sysomvang Kanlaya, another sub, netted from the penalty spot to make it 6-2 to Laos and to end Cambodia's World Cup hopes for another four years. [This article was updated as the match progressed].
The Cambodian starting eleven saw Sam El Nasa replace Tum Saray from the 1st leg team, so the line-up looked like this (with subs): Mic, Rady (Raksmey 49), Pancharong, Tiny, Rithy, Sothearath, Sopanha (PM Udom 75), Chhoeurn, Laboravy, El Nasa (Dina 54), Sokumpheak. Subs not used: Vichet, Vichheka, Saray, Souhana. Bookings: Mic, Rithy, Sothearath. The Cambodian bench looked very thin with no-one that could change the game, with the coach's squad selection coming back to haunt him.
The Cambodian coach, Lee Tae-Hoon, has now presided over the abject failure at the first hurdle in the Suzuki Cup, the AFC Challenge Cup and now the World Cup. That takes some beating as the most piss-poor record of a national team coach and yet he had the opportunity to call on players performing in a better standard of football than ever before, and refused to do it, so he has no-one to blame but himself. His stated desire to concentrate on the U-23 team (with another BIDC Cup and the SEA Games in his sights later this year) will not go down well with the national team fans. To imply that he wasn't interested in the World Cup competition should not be forgiven or forgotten by the fans. To me that simply stinks. To prepare so poorly for the World Cup games with two scraping-the-barrel friendlies, was crap in the extreme. But if you think that his dismal record will force the football federation into making a change, then think again. The coach's salary is paid for by the Korean FA, so don't expect any change to the status quo. Improving the country's international football image isn't worth spending money on in the eyes of those in charge. I could prattle on longer, but I've been identifying the weaknesses of the selection policy and so on for a while now, and whilst the first leg victory gave everyone a lift, it was back to what we've been accustomed to in the 2nd leg. How a team that could barely get into our box in the 1st leg, could score six in the 2nd leg is just one question we should be posing the coach in the after-match inquest. The only quote I've seen from Lee Tae-Hoon so far is; "Our team found it hard to control their emotions when travelling abroad." Ah, so that's the reason for our World Cup debacle. Nothing to do with your selection, tactics and coaching ability then.