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Cambodia counter-attacks reveal growing confidence


But Royals widely outclassed at Suzuki Cup, having given up nine goals while scoring none, with a third and final match against also-rans Myanmar to come


Cambodian goalkeeper Samreth Seiha (right) walks away as Indonesian players celebrate a goal on their way to a 4-0 win on Sunday night.


Tonight’s matches:

- Cambodia v Myanmar

- Singapore v Indonesia


Friday December 5

Singapore 5 - 0 Cambodia

Indonesia 3 - 0 Myanmar
Sunday December 7

Singapore 3 - 1 Myanmar

Indonesia 4 - 0 Cambodia


INDONESIA were good on Sunday. Whether they were good enough will have to wait until tonight.  

For much of the Sunday night match, Indonesia bore little resemblance to the side that saw off Myanmar in the AFF Suzuki Cup on Friday.

Needing to win by at least four goals to keep pace with Singapore, a dozy Indonesia took their time getting going before defeating Cambodia 4-0 at Gelora Bung Karno Stadium in a performance lacking urgency, movement and sharpness.

Indonesia and Singapore, who defeated Myanmar 3-1 in Sunday's first match, are through to the semifinals with six points each. Indonesia must now beat the two-time defending champions if they want to avoid finishing second and a potential second leg away to Thailand.

A draw would see both teams on seven points and a goal difference of seven, handing Singapore the group on the number of goals scored.

Needing to secure all three points tonight is just fine, Indonesia coach Benny Dollo said.

"I don't care about the score, as long as we win. We'll face Singapore in the last match and we want to win," Benny said.

"Singapore is considered the favourite, and that gives us more motivation to beat them. This will be our biggest challenge in the group stage.

"As I said before, I won't rotate my players.

"I don't know why the AFF only gives one day of rest to the teams when it usually takes two days to recover," he added.

A bolder Cambodia

Much as they did against Singapore, Cambodia ceded possession to their opponents, choosing instead to defend in numbers and clog the middle of the field.

Unlike their opening match, though, Cambodia did enough to look dangerous on the counter-attack and keep Indonesia from piling too many bodies forward.

Indonesian attacks frequently broke down in the attacking third of the field as Cambodian feet, heads and torsos often got in the way of the final ball.

The Cambodians' newfound forward impetus took the host country by surprise.

"At the start of the match, the players underestimated Cambodia, so they lost their focus," Benny said.  

"On the other hand, Cambodia played very different than [Friday], as they played more offensively. We thought Cambodia would play defensively like when they played Singapore in the first match."

Cambodia coach Prak Sovannara said he was proud of the resilience his team showed in the face of the home nation's attacks.

"Once again, I am very disappointed with the result, having lost 4-0," Prak Sovannara said. "The most important thing in this game was the players showed their confidence. If you compare with the first game, today they tried to score and get a goal back after Indonesia scored two goals. But if you open up, there can be more goals."

Hat-trick for Budi

Indonesia's persistence paid off in the 14th minute when Budi Sudarsono gave Indonesia the early goal it sought.

Keeping up the pressure, the hosts piled forward.

But Royals widely outclassed at Suzuki Cup, having given up nine goals while scoring none, with a third and final match against also-rans Myanmar to come

It seemed the only things taking a worse pounding than the Cambodian defence were the drums in the Indonesian supporters' section. The home crowd earned high marks for dedication, continuing to sing and chant while the players tried to figure out a way past the Royals' massed defence.
Budi struck again in the 55th minute, running onto Ismed's cross behind the defenders and firing past Samreth Seiha for his second goal of the night.

But the expected opening of the floodgates following the second goal failed to materialise, with fouls, offside calls and Cambodians crumpling to the turf ruining any semblance of attacking rhythm.

The second half saw no fewer than six stoppages for Cambodian players to receive treatment, the fifth of which saw Samreth Seiha struggle off the field as he was substituted for back-up keeper Hem Simay.

Firman Utina, so often the culprit in Indonesia's fizzling attacks, picked up in the final 20 minutes to breathe life into the host's chances of winning Group A.

He accelerated past Lay Raksmey in the 70th minute before serving up a cross for Budi to complete his hat-trick, and six minutes later he found an unmarked Bambang Pamungkas with a deep cross for Indonesia's fourth goal.

Focus on Myanmar

While Indonesia and Singapore now fight it out for semifinal positioning, Cambodia and Myanmar will meet tonight with little more than pride at stake.

The focus now, Prak Sovannara said, is to emerge from Si Jalak Harupat Stadium in Bandung with a positive result.

"Overall, the team improved and became much better. I hope in the last game with Myanmar the team can become even better than this game," he said.



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