Football fans turned out in their tens of thousands at the Olympic Stadium Tuesday evening, braving heavy downpours to witness the Cambodian national side play friendly against their regional rival, Laos.
The game ended in a 1-1 draw with goals coming from Khuon Laboravy and Sangvone Phimmasen.
Although the first half produced no goals there was plenty for the Cambodian fans to cheer as they had the lion’s share of opportunities to go ahead in a tight half.
Cambodia hit the back of the net as early as the 20th minute although the header from Cambodian number 4 was adjudged to be offside, much to the disappointment of the hordes in attendance.
Steve Darby showed why he is such a highly regarded coach. Although in charge for little over three weeks, the Englishman had forged the Laotians into an impenetrable force. Despite the efforts of the Cambodians, they failed to subdue the visitors in an eventful first half.
After they were shutout in the first half, Cambodia entered the fray in the second half with added momentum, perhaps to appease the home support. The Angkor Warriors were duly rewarded for their perseverance. Laboravy received the ball from a slick backheel from his teammate just outside the box. The veteran number 9 then sent fans into ecstasy as he struck the ball with fury past the helpless Lao keeper.
But Cambodia lead was short lived as Laos drew level just minutes later, thanks to lax defending from Kazunori Ohara’s men. A wicked free kick from the left wing found the head of Phimmasen, who evaded his marker and beat Cambodian custodian Sou Yaty.
Opportunities for both sides were wasted as the teams settled for a draw under the floodlights.
Speaking after the game, coach Ohara paid tribute to the fans who stayed on to watch the game despite poor weather conditions.
“I am happy to see the fans here to show their support – even though the weather is
terrible,” he said.
Ohara now departs with his squad to Thailand to prepare for the Friday meeting with Myanmar. June 11 and Singapore comes just days later, making for a baptism of fire for the Japanese interim coach.
(Contributed by Ismail Vorajee / Khmer Times)