Saturday, September 13, 2014

Cambodia held

The starting XI for Cambodia v JFL
Seven Phnom Penh Crown players took to the pitch for the Cambodia national team in this afternoon's 2-2 draw with the Japan Football League's touring team in a friendly at Olympic Stadium. Kouch Sokumpheak led the team in the goalless first-half alongside Ngoy Srin and Sos Suhana. Both teams struggled to get out of first gear in the opening 45 minutes in front of a healthily-sized audience, though the touring team, who'd beaten both Laos and Myanmar U-23s 3-0 in recent days, were the crisper passing and moving of the two sides. Starting the second-half for the NT were Kok Boris, Ouk Sothy and Sou Yaty, with Crown's Hong Pheng coming on for Sothy for the final thirteen minutes. Bin Thierry didn't get off the bench. The opening twenty minutes of the second half was all Cambodia. JFL sat back and allowed the home team to dominate and Prak Mony Udom saw his effort tipped over the top. A ball in the face for Sothy made him see stars as his legs buckled and he crumpled to the ground, and it took the NT coach Lee Tae-Hoon running onto the pitch for local referee Thong Chankethya to stop play. Why the referee didn't understand the seriousness of the situation is beyond me - everyone else did. Ten minutes in and a mistake by the JFL keeper and Chhin Chhoeun fired home the opening salvo. Udom and Khuon Laboravy also went close before Sok Chanrasmey got the final touch at close quarters to send the home fans into raptures. Two goals ahead and looking good. But that's where it ended as the visitors took back control in no uncertain terms. Sou Yaty was the busiest man on the pitch for the last 25 minutes. He pulled off a great save but had no chance with a powerful header from Tanaka on 74 minutes. It was a poorly-defended corner in truth. In the last four minutes of the game, Yaty made three reflex saves, getting himself injured in the process as he clattered into the post, and it came as no surprise when JFL equalised three minutes into stoppage time. The leveller came through Suzuki from the edge of the area as Cambodia were slow to close down. So at the end, a disappointing result for the NT against a team put together from Japan's fourth tier of football. That twenty-minute spell was enough to get the fans on their feet but successfully defending a lead must be the priority for the NT to work on ahead of their Suzuki Cup exploits next month. Upcoming away international games in Malaysia and Chinese Taipei lie ahead before they set sail for Laos.

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