The Cambodian national side is looking ahead to Thursday’s 2019 AFC Asian Cup qualifier first leg away to Chinese Taipei after scoring a morale-boosting 2-0 win in Sunday evening’s warmup against Timor-Leste.
Goals from Phuong Soksana and Khuon Laboravy, early in each half, sent the approximately 50,000 spectators at the National Olympic Stadium into rapture, as the Cambodians proved too strong for their visiting Asean rivals.
Cambodian coach Lee Tae-hoon continue to freeze out regular goalkeeper Sou Yaty and instead opt for Ministry of National Defense FC shotstopper Um Sereirath in goal, while Boeung Ket Angkor’s Khuon Laboravy, who was also named captain, and Phnom Penh Crown’s Keo Sokpheng were selected to lead the line up front. The regular defensive pairing of Hong Pheng and Sok Sovan was rarely troubled throughout the match.
Soksana scored the game’s opener in the tenth minute. The Ministry of National Defense forward expertly took down a header from his teammate on the right-wing, slipped the ball between the legs of the backtracking Timor-Leste defender and struck an unstoppable right-footed effort beyond the visiting keeper.
Despite the lead and the benefit of a superior possession, Cambodia had to wait until early after the second half restart for their second after Laboravy opened his account in the 48th.
Chan Vathanaka, who was introduced as a substitute, caused havoc in the opposition penalty box, delivering a free-kick from the right-wing into the box. The ball made its way through a sea of players, struck the far post and landed neatly for Laboravy to head home from yards out for the second and final goal of the game.
Speaking after the game, Rous Samoeun, the national team fullback, was pleased with his – and the team’s – performance.
“I am pleased that we cooperated well in all areas of the pitch. I was really happy that we overcame Timor-Leste and even better to do so without conceding any goals,” he said. “Also I want to thank our dedicated fans, many of whom have been waiting since noon until the end of the match. I am so thankful for their continued support.”
Cambodia will now travel to Chinese Taipei for the first leg of Thursday’s 2019 AFC Asian Cup qualifier playoff round, before returning to prepare to host the return leg just five days later in June.