|Cambodia in the 2nd half. Back Row, LtoR: Udom, Piseth, Raksmey, Yaty, Rithy, Phallin. Front: Veasna, Suhana, Pancharong, Borey, Vathanaka.|
The Cambodian national team signed off with a successful practice match victory this afternoon at the Olympic Stadium, beating the C-League leaders Boeung Ket 2-1. I don't know why they kicked-off at 2 o'clock as the heat was unbearable, but they did and the first half suffered as a result, with neither team showing much in the way of exciting football. Prak Sovannara gave most of his squad game-time, making ten changes at the interval. By that time, the only two noteworthy elements of the first 45 minutes was Boeung Ket's opener and an open and shut penalty which the referee inexplicably didn't see. Keo Sokngorn may get a slight touch of satisfaction from scoring on 15 minutes when two defenders gave him too much room and he managed to put his shot beyond the reach of keeper Samrith Seiha. Sokngorn had been dismissed from Sovannara's squad just a week earlier. On the half-hour Chhin Chhoeun was pulled down in the Boeung Ket box for a nailed-on spot-kick which was ignored by the referee, much to everyone's surprise.
With Sovannara's first-choice eleven on view for the second-half, there was an obvious improvement in pace and passing and Boeung Ket found it hard to live with it. Their top scorer Bisan George was replaced after failing to shine and at the other end, a nippy burst by Sos Suhana was unlucky not to equalise. A minute after the hour mark and Cambodia drew level. Suon Veasna sent in a cross that Chan Vathanaka left and as the ball bounced, Peng Bunchhay took his eye off it and the ball crept inside the far post. Though chances were few and far between, the national team coach will be pleased with their match winner just two minutes from time. Vathanaka spotted the late arrival of center-half Sok Rithy into the box, picked him out with a perfect pass and the lanky defender took on the role of goalscorer with a neat sidestep and powerful finish inside Bunchhay's near post. The make-up of the national team in the second period certainly worked with Veasna and Hoy Phallin looking neat and tidy in midfield, Borey worked hard up front and won every header while Vathanaka is definitely the team's man-most-likely to do damage. Sovannara now has to cull five players from the 25-man squad, before he heads for the Philippines and the AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers later next week.
Cambodia line-up: Seiha (Yaty 46), Raksmey, Khmerin (Pancharong 46), Tiny (Piseth 46), Thavrak (Rithy 46), Narith (Phallin 46), Sopanha (Veasna 46), Chanrasmey (PM Udom 46), Chhoeun (Suhana 47 (Vathanak 70)), Laboravy (Vathanaka 46), Sokumpheak (Borey 46). Subs not used: Chum, Sovannrithy. Booking: Suhana.
|Cambodia in the 1st half: Back Row, LtoR: Thavrak, Tiny, Raksmey, Seiha, Laboravy, Narith. Front: Sopanha, Chanraksmey, Chhoeun, Sokumpheak, Khemrin.|
|Two of Cambodia's comeback stars, Kouch Sokumpheak (10) and Khuon Laboravy (8)|
|The starting XI for Boeung Ket included BBU's Chhun Sothearath (with head cap)|