Cambodia U-16s head coach Sam Schweingruber reflected on his team's 6-0 defeat to Vietnam on Saturday in the AFF U-16 Youth Championship.
"The first 35 minutes of the game showed us that our objective to win against Vietnam was difficult but certainly possible. The intensity and commitment displayed by the players made me proud. We worked so hard and well. Individual technical mistakes and a lot of fouls made it difficult for our boys to really build up and keep possession and while Vietnam were strong they did not really cause us trouble or danger other than a corner kick and a shot from distance. We knew that we needed a perfect game and a bit of luck, but neither of it came our way on the day. On 32 minutes I had to replace Senteang after a strong challenge in which he broke his collarbone. Soon after Dinarong needed treatment for a kick in his leg and he played on but in pain. On 38 mins this cost us; a long free kick and Dinarong was a bit slower and less aggressive with his injury and Titchhy was also late to cover and we were down 1-nil. After a corner kick it was Mesa’s turn to get treatment and the late challenge on him should’ve been punished. The game was certainly not over and just before half-time we were robbed of a perfect chance - a 1-touch ball was played through and left 2 of our players alone against the goalkeeper, but the referee decided on a free kick for us and stole a perfect advantage.
At half-time we had to change Mesa and Samnang replaced him. We also had to fix injuries to Sodavid & Ravan who both had trouble breathing after hard hits, Chanpolin and Ponvuthy with ankle issues and Dinarong with his injury. We took a risk to keep Dinarong on the field. After just 3 mins, a nice cross and Dinarong reacted late; it was clear that it was the wrong call to let him continue and a third goal confirmed it. So Sovann replaced him on 55 mins. We had long spells of attacking and I decided to push the team to at least score a goal. On a few occasions we came close - the best chance fell to Sokheng when he went through for a 1-on-1 with their keeper. Vietnam was now pushed back on the defensive and hoping to punish us on the counter attack. We failed to find a way through, wasted some free kicks and good possession and then got punished on the quick break. The final score, 6-0 was a total disappointment. Many players cried, both because of complete exhaustion and in disbelief how such a brave performance can end with such a heavy defeat.
With the well-rested Vietnam team (who had 3 complete days to recover before the match) going into the game with a direct and very physical approach and their head coach pushing them to hurt us, it was all too much for our boys. I am very proud of how they tried, how well we played the first 35 mins, how they never gave up and how much they wanted to make Cambodia proud. The disappointing result did not reflect on their brave performance. Luck was not with us today and some of our decisions didn’t work either. We are now looking to recover and learn from today, and will aim to end the tournament with a positive game and result against Myanmar on Wednesday."