The Cambodian national side finished strongly in their preparation for their 2018 Russia World Cup qualification group E game next Thursday against Singapore, with a 3-2 win over Phnom Penh Crown FC on Thursday evening.
With the Metfone C-League champions on a break till after the World Cup qualifiers, the Football Federation of Cambodia and Phnom Penh Crown management arranged an opportune friendly to keep the players fresh ahead of vital upcoming matches for both sides.
Crown, the 2014 league winners, sit in second place in the current standings and although assured a playoff spot, will need to beat Boueng Ket Angkor FC on October 22 if they are to finish at the top of the table and compete for the Kingdom in November’s Toyota Mekong Club Championship.
The Cambodian national side meanwhile, have struggled for form in competitive competition, losing each of their four qualifiers, the last of which, in September, where they were played off their own park by the Syrians in a 6-0 demolition at Phnom Penh’s Olympic Stadium. Coach Lee Tae Hoon has placed his faith in youth, bedding in young talents like Chan Vathanaka, Keo Sokpheng and Prak Mony Udom although it is a task they may not, as yet, be ready for with four losses in their four group games thus far.
While the youngsters may not be ready for the rigours of international competition, the Angkor Warriors gave a solid account of themselves, despite the rain, in front of throngs of supporters at the RSN Stadium.
Played in three intervals of 30 minutes each, Vathanaka was able to get his shooting practice in ahead of the imminent Crown versus Boeung Ket meeting later this month. He was joined on the scoresheet in the game’s first interval by ex-club teammate Keo Sokpheng – who scored for the Warriors against his domestic club side.
As the rain began to lash down by the start of the second interval, Crown had the possession as the national team struggled to match the pace set by Shane Booysen and George Bisan.
A Booysen penalty was smartly saved by Sou Yaty in the national team goal, before goals a flurry of activity saw the keepers beaten three times in the third interval. Thierry Chantha Bin scored against his club side to give the national side a three goal margin, before the Warriors defensive frailties in the air were exposed as Crown’s Korean import Yongsuk Baek and Nigerian forward George Bisan pulled two headed goals back for the hosts. Crown came close to a last gasp leveller, although Um Tola’s strike was ruled out at the death.
Singapore Welcome Warriors
Singapore meanwhile, will attempt a repeat of July’s qualifier by handing Cambodia another beating in their Thursday clash at Singapore’s Sports Hub.
Singapore made an emphatic start to their qualification campaign in June with a 4-0 win over Tae Hoon’s men in Phnom Penh’s Olympic Stadium. The win was followed days later by an impressive 0-0 draw away to Japan, one of Asia’s strongest nations. Their most recent group game saw the side edged out 1-0 in a tight contest.
Cambodia currently sit at the bottom of the table in fifth place with 0 points. Afghanistan sit above the Kingdom in fourth, while Singapore are in third. Japan sit in second with seven points while Syria top the group with nine points.