Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Cambodia are through

PPCFC's trio - Thierry, Yaty and Suhana - go through to the semi-finals with Cambodia U-23s - click to enlarge
It was back to the Olympic Stadium this afternoon for round 2 of the Cambodia U-23s build-up to the forthcoming SEA Games, and hoping to do well in the six-team competition they are hosting, the Mekong Region BIDC Cup (aka MRYUIFTBIDCCup2013). At least a draw against Laos would put them in the semi-final so they went into the game knowing exactly what was required. Coach Lee Tae-Hoon went for an even more defensive formation, 4-2-3-1 for this game, recalling Touch Pancharong and Prak Mony Udom, alongside the three Phnom Penh Crown players, Sou Yaty, Bin Thierry and Sos Suhana. In front of another big crowd at the Olympic Stadium, the first half was notable for just three incidents. On six minutes, Yaty was quick to react to a goal-bound attempt and pushed it away from danger. At the other end, on 23 minutes, Phoung Soksana evaded his marker but sent his diving header well wide. Then two yellow cards in two minutes, for two late challenges by the same player, Ketsada Souksavanh, gave Cambodia a numerical advantage to take into the second half. Except that within 18 seconds of the restart, Laos caught the home defence wiping the sleep from their eyes and scored from close range through Khonesavanh Sihavong. From the kick-off, Laos strung seven passes together before tapping in the opening goal. It was far too simple. However, in less than a minute, it was all square as Ros Samoeun made amends for his fluffed clearance moments earlier by speeding down the left flank onto a long ball from Sok Sovan. His cross found Keo Sokngon at the near post who swung a foot, missed the ball and fell over, but had the presence of mind to poke the loose ball over the goal-line.

Despite a man down, Laos pressed and on the hour, poor control by Sovan allowed the fleet-footed Phoutthasay Khochalern to enter the box, leave Sok Rithy for dead and squeeze his shot inside Yaty's near post. It stunned the large audience into momentary silence. Lee Tae-Hoon's response was to send on Sok Pheng, whilst everyone else was screaming for the introduction of Chan Vathanaka. Moments later Sokngon released Soksana through the middle but his touch deserted him and he rolled his shot agonisingly wide, when it looked easier to score. An injury forced Laos to change their keeper, Vathanaka finally entered the fray for an out-of-sorts Soksana and Cambodia finally found the key to unlock the visitors defence. Thierry threaded a inch-perfect pass through the center to Chhin Chhoeun, who kept his composure to clip the ball past the onrushing keeper for the equaliser on 72 minutes. And that was about it as far as goalmouth action for the rest of the game. Neither team were prepared to bust a gut to go for the winner and Laos went out of the competition with a whimper. Meanwhile, Cambodia go through to meet Thailand, who won both of their group matches, in Friday's semi-final. Malaysia will meet Myanmar in the other semi.
Cambodia U-23s v Laos: Yaty, Pancharong, Samoeun, Sovan, Rithy, Thierry (Sothearath 92), Suhana, PM Udom (Pheng 65), Chhoeun, Soksana (Vathanaka 69), Sokngon. Subs not used: Sophea, Khemarin, Sothearoth, Piseth, Saray, Dara. Bookings: Yaty. MOTM: Thierry - rolled up his sleeves, battled hard and superb pass for equaliser. Goals: Sokngon (47), Chhoeun (72).

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