Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Cambodia draw 2-2

The Cambodian starting XI. Back Row LtoR: Udom, Pheng, Vichet, Rady, Rithy, Sovan. Front Row: Chhoeurn, Souhana, Veasna, Sothearath (capt), Dalin
As expected the rain didn't stay away from the Olympic Stadium this afternoon and made the pitch a quagmire by the time Cambodia faced Myanmar in the 5.30pm kick-off. The outcome of this MRYUIFTBIDC Cup (aka BIDC Cup) match looked to be heading Myanmar's way once Lee Tae-Hoon announced his starting line-up. Making seven changes from the team that beat Laos 2-0 on Saturday, it looked like the South Korean coach had handed the initiative to his German opponent Gerd Zeise, the Myanmar coach, by fielding what anyone would call a second string team. But that wasn't taking into account the battling qualities of the Cambodians nor the man-mountain performances put in by the central defensive partnership of Sok Rithy and Sok Sovan and the non-stop engine of Chhun Sothearath. The trio were absolutely outstanding throughout. The final score of 2-2 was perhaps fair enough though Zeise was shouting at the Vietnamese referee at the end of the game, claiming he'd deliberately avoided giving two late penalties and in his aftermatch tv interview, he suggested; "we played against 13 tonight, including 11 Cambodians, 1 referee and 1 linesman. We deserved better." The result now pairs Cambodia against the hot favourites Thailand in Friday's semi-final, with Myanmar facing Vietnam in the other one. Chin Chhoeurn's free-kick was punched out to kick-start the action early on, before Sok Rithy made the first of his goal-saving clearances after Um Vichet had missed his kick in the clogging mud. Sos Souhana missed his header just after before Chhun Sothearath's 25-yard range-finder was tipped over the top by Myanmar keeper Pyaye Phyo Aung. Myanmar drew first blood on 24 minutes when Samuth Dalin's attempted clearance allowed Thet Naing to sprint into the box and cross to the far post where Thiha Zaw got the jump on Sok Sovan to slot inside the post. PPCFC's Sok Pheng limped out of the game just after the half-hour, to be replaced by Tum Saray and it was his surge through the mud, with the ball, that put Souhana in on goal, only for Hein Thiha Zaw to bring him down and set up Cambodia's equaliser from the penalty spot. Prak Mony Udom kept his nerve to complete the task with five minutes of the 1st half left on the clock. In the last minute a Sovan header looked destined for the net until Aung clawed it away and the teams went in all square at the break.

Seven minutes after the restart and Cambodia got their noses in front. Sothearath and Chin Chhoeurn combined on the right flank to set up Saray but Aung blocked his close-range effort, only for less than thirty seconds to elapse before Sothearath's cross found an unmarked Saray three yards from goal and he nodded in with glee. The large crowd erupted in unison. Both teams made changes and it was one of Myanmar's that worked a treat. Yan Naing Htwe had been on the pitch for just a minute when he took advantage of the ball sticking in the mud, held off Rithy and whacked the ball into the net on 66 minutes for the leveller. The game petered out until the Myanmar bench were up in arms over two claims for penalties that had merit from the touchline but were waved away by the match officials in the final minute. Home keeper Vichet came up for a corner in injury time to try and grab a late winner but it was Myanmar who broke and looked set to score until Sok Rithy performed another of his miraculous last-ditch saving tackles.
Cambodia line-up: Vichet, Rady, Dalin, Sovan, Rithy, Veasna, Sothearath, Chhoeurn (Laboravy 57), PM Udom (Phearith 69), Souhana, Pheng (Saray 32). Subs not used: Yaty, Raksmey, Daravorn, Pancharong, Soksana, Sokngorn. Bookings: Sovan, Veasna.
The Phnom Penh Crown duo, Sok Pheng (left) and Sok Sovan
Waiting for the national anthem. LtoR: Dalin, Udom, Pheng, Sovan, Rithy
The Cambodian bench with coach Lee Tae-Hoon on the far right
The Myanmar starting line-up with a captain already on the move

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