Cambodia gear up for their fourth game in group E of the 2018 Russia World Cup qualification second round as they welcome the Syrian team to the National Olympic Stadium in Phnom Penh on Tuesday evening.
The Cambodians – ranked 180th in the FIFA rankings – were on the receiving end of a 3-0 loss to Valid Halilhodzic’s Japan in Saitama Stadium, Japan in their third group game, although an admirable first half-defensive display saw the visitors hold the world’s 54th best side – and one of Asia’s finest – to a solitary goal lead courtesy of AC Milan’s Keisuke Honda. However, Cambodia’s hopes unravelled in the second half as Shinji Kagawa and Maya Yoshida made the points safe for the Samurai Blue.
Coach Tae Hoon will hope for another virtuoso goalkeeping performance from Boeung Ket Angkor FC’s Sou Yaty. The Cambodian custodian was in imperious form as he restricted Honda and his teammates to just three goals – Japan should have had many more.
Cambodia are tet to hit the back of the net in their qualification campaign and although the side only registered one shot in their Japan tie – a tame Kouch Sokumpheak effort –they will be sure to have more opportunities against the less defensively robust Syrians.
Syrians Top Group
With the hosts returning to the Kingdom on Friday fresh from a 3-0 reverse to Asian powerhouse Japan, Cambodian coach Lee Tae Hoon will be hoping his side can take something away from Tuesday’s game, although this will be no easy task against Fajr Ibrahim’s ‘Eagles’.
The Syrians currently top group E with a 100 percent record having secured three points in both their outings – defeating Singapore 1-0 last Thursday and the June demolition of Afghanistan 6-0.
The Syrians were fortunate to grab the win over Singapore which was played in the neutral venue of Muscat, Oman due to the difficulties of Syria hosting sporting events. A second-half goal from midfielder Oday Al-Jalal was enough to separate the sides after a close fought encounter at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex in the Omani capital.
The Syrians were more successful against the Afghans in June having taken apart their central Asian rivals 6-0 in a match hosted in Mashad, Iran. The Syrians had raced to a three goal lead by half-time and were able to seal a heavy win with three- more in the second-half, including a late stoppage time penalty from Omar Khribin.
The group winners and four best runners-up will advance to the 2019 AFC Asian Cup finals as well as to the third and final round of qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
The next best 24 teams from the preliminary stage of the joint qualifiers will compete in a separate competition for the remaining spots in the 24-team 2019 Asian Cup.