Cambodia long- standing jinx of losing to Malaysia on the football pitch across all levels of competition has finally been broken.
The history making 3-1 victory at the Olympic Stadium yesterday for head coach Prak Sovannara’s squad came in an international friendly against the Malaysian U23 side, nicknamed the Young Tigers.
“I could not have wished for a bigger morale boost than this ahead of our trip to Manila for the AFC Challenge Cup in two weeks time,” Prak Sovanara told the Post.
“The formations I had in mind worked and there are a few areas we need to sharpen up and to the extent possible I could also see our bench strength. The victory feels great, but we have lot of hard work ahead.
Young Tigers’ coach Ong Kim Swee highlighted two “silly mistakes” that led to the first two goals against them. “After that it was hard to come back, though our boys did work hard,” he said.
“I am unhappy that we lost but this is a very young inexperienced side which will be all the better for this exposure. Our target is defending our SEA Games gold medal in Myanmar, and I do take some positives from this game.”
The coach also noted that Cambodia worked well on their counterattacks. “In fact, they played simple one-two passes quite effectively, though their technique was just average,” he added.
Striker Khim Borey gave the hosts a dream start with an opportunistic goal in the 10th minute. An awkward rush out of his charge by Malaysia goalkeeper Muhammad Izham bin Roslan and a scattered defence gave Borey a chance to work the ball away from them yards from the top of the box and into an empty net.
Just before half time, midfielder Teab Vathanak doubled the lead making the most of a trouble-free dash into the area. Striker Khoun Laboravy, who came in as a substitute for Vathanak, justified his late addition to the probables list by heading home Khim Borey’s aerial pass late in the game to tick the side’s third goal.
The first half highlight for Sou Yaty under the Cambodian bar was his reflexive collection of two good attempts by Malaysia on top of one alert interception that averted a possible own goal when Tieng Tiny stuck his foot out to defend a firm shot at goal.
But Yaty’s spectacular save of a stinging shot from Muhammad Zaidan in the second half was indeed a stand out moment.
The visitors, who struggled most of the way to grate the grooves, pulled one back in the 63rd minute when substitute Thamil Arasu Ambumamee scored in the midst of a melee inside the Cambodian box.
Kouch Sokumpheak just got a few minutes playing time towards the end even as Prak Sovanara tried out Hoy Phalin, Chhin Chhoeun and Khek Khemrin as substitutes.