The Cambodian national team welcomed Bhutan
in an international friendly
match at the National Olympic Stadium on Thursday
evening, with the hosts triumphing in a 2-0 win.
With coach Lee Tae Hoon back in the Cambodian hot-seat after a brief stint overseeing the Under-23’s Southeast Asia Games campaign, the South Korean rejigged the hosts’ lineup, giving plenty of game time to a slew of youngsters often overlooked by his predecessor and Football Federation of Cambodia
Technical Director Kazunori Ohara.
In an open first period, Cambodia should have taken the lead on numerous occasions, with scuffed shots from Keo Sokpheng and Khuon Laboravy keeping the game goalless.
However, Tae Hoon’s belief in youth was somewhat vindicated in a game which saw Rous Samoeun put the hosts ahead 28 minutes into the first half.
The 21-year-old Boeung Ket Angkor FC full-back took the ball down exquisitely with his right foot from a measured punt into the box from captain Kouch Sokumpheak. With the Bhutan goalkeeper committed, Samoeun, with his back to the goal, took a touch to the wrong foot the keeper and placed the ball beyond the Bhutan keeper and into the far post.
Fellow Under-23 player Sokpheng made amends for a poor first-half display, grabbing a second goal for Cambodia in the 57th minute. There were no further goals in a quiet second half as the Cambodians settled for the two goal win in front of the home support.
The win will be a welcome boost for Tae Hoon’s side, who are preparing for two vital 2018 World Cup qualifying matches against Japan and Syria early next month. Although unlikely to garner much from their September 3 test away to continental powerhouse Japan, Cambodia will hope to snatch points from the Syrians, whom they host on September 8.
Cambodia will next make their way to Bangkok, where they will face Laos on Tuesday in what is likely to be their final warm-up game before their September date with Japan. The last encounter between the two Asean rivals – in a friendly match in June – led to a 1-1 draw at the National Olympic Stadium in Phnom Penh.