The national football team take on the Philippines at Olympic Stadium
today hoping their scoring record in qualifying for the Suzuki Cup will
provide the difference
Photo by: May Kunmakara
Cambodia players file onto the pitch at Olympic Stadium prior to first match against Laos on Friday.
All games played at Olympic Stadium
THURSDAY October 23
Laos v Brunei (2pm kickoff)
Cambodia v Philippines (4pm)
SATURDAY October 25
Cambodia v Brunei (2pm)
Laos v East Timor (4pm)
CAMBODIA continue their quest to qualify for Southeast Asia's Suzuki Cup football finals with a match today against the Philippines at Olympic Stadium in Phnom Penh.
Cambodia currently sit second in the qualifying rankings behind Brunei on goal difference in the five-nation tournament following a 3-2 win over Laos last Friday and a 2-2 draw with lowly East Timor on Sunday - a result that could come back to haunt them when the competition wraps up on Saturday.
With the remaining possibility of being one of two teams to advance to the finals in December, the outcome of today's match and that of Sunday's against Brunei will be critical.
The Philippines also go into the 4pm tie with four points after three games, having defeated East Timor 1-0, drawn with Brunei 1-1 and lost to Laos 1-2.
And with all teams other than East Timor still in the running to advance, Football Federation of Cambodia president Sao Sokha knows there is little room for error and is relying on Cambodia's stronger attacking record to see off the Philippine challenge.
"We think that we have a better chance of being successful in the tournament," he told the Post Wednesday.
"In our first two matches, we scored four times while the Philippines got four goals from three matches, and they lost 1-2 to Laos yesterday.
"Brunei is the team that we expect to be our strongest competition because in their two games they also scored four goals, the same as us," he added.
Brunei play Laos in today's first match at 2pm, followed by Cambodia's 4pm kick-off. The Cambodia game will be shown live on KTV.
Time to rest and review
Head coach Prak Sovvanara said he was confident the extra two days of rest Cambodia had enjoyed over the Philippines, who are playing their final match today, would also help tip the odds in the home side's favour.
"We have more chance to win [today's] match because we've had enough time to rest and observe the other team's strategy," he said.
"The Philippines have played back-to-back matches so they will get a bit tired and lose some of their power. What's more, we've studied their team's approach for a long time and set a strategy of our own to counter that."
He added that Cambodia would stick with the same plan of attack they had for the past three months because he didn't want to risk changing it now.
Striker Khim Borey said he was anticipating a convincing win over the Philippines this afternoon. "They like making long passes and they never run back quickly to defend, while we strike back fast when we get the ball - that is their main weakness," he said.
Prak Sovvanara pointed out that even a loss today would not mean the end of Cambodia's qualifying chances - so long as they defeat Brunei on Saturday by a large enough margin to advance on goal differential. A loss today would mean Cambodia cannot win the tournament outright on points.
The Suzuki Cup will played from December 5-28 in Indonesia and Thailand. The hosts will be joined by defending champions Singapore, Malaysia, Myanmar and Vietnam, as well as the two qualifiers.
SUZUKI CUP Qualifying Tournament
Standings ahead of Thursday’s matches