Cambodia, as expected, had a torrid time in Manila over the weekend, crashing out of the 2014 AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers following two heavy losses of 7-0 and 8-0 to Turkmenistan and the Philippines respectively.
A capitulation against two-time runners-up Turkmenistan on Friday meant Prak Sovannara’s squad went into their second and final qualifier last night needing to defeat the hosts by at least seven goals.
The mission became truly impossible at the Rizal Memorial Stadium when Filipino striker Phil Younghusband notched a first-half hat-trick in the space of 10 minutes.
Another goal from Azkals forward Javier Patino on the stroke of half-time signified the end was nigh on Cambodia’s campaign in the biennial competition, which features teams from the emerging football nations of Asia.
Stephan Schrock of German Bundesliga club Hoffenheim continued the Kingdom’s woes with a long-range strike barely minutes after the restart, and then Patino grabbed his second before a waterlogged pitch suspended play for over an hour. There were also occasional failures of the floodlights that caused some distraction from the action.
The closing stages were also dominated by the home side, who carved out a host of clear-cut chances. Young-husband streaked through to knock in his fourth of the day, and Carli de Murga, with a flying kick, put the icing on the cake for a comprehensive final scoreline.
One slight annoyance for the Pinoys will be the 84th-minute dismissal of Paul Mulders, who will miss out on tomorrow’s crucial clash with Turkmenistan.
Friday’s match had been a huge blow to Cambodian morale, as Turkmenistan’s Arslanmyrat Amanow put his side ahead as early as the seventh minute.
A quick-fire brace from Wladimir Bayramow had the Central Asian side well on top, with defender Om Thavrak compounding matters for Cambodia with an own goal shortly before the break.
Turkmenistan then rounded off the rout with strikes from Berdi Samyradow, Guwanc Abylow and Gurbangeldi Batyrow late on in the second session.
Turkmenistan and the Philippines face off tomorrow at 6:30pm Cambodian time to decide who will progress to next year’s finals as winners of Group E, joining fellow group toppers Myanmar, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan and Palestine along with finals hosts the Maldives.
Two second-placed sides from the groups also advance to the tournament proper, with Bangladesh and India still in the hunt on six points a piece and goal differences of +5 and +4 respectively.
Providing tomorrow’s game is not a complete landslide for either team, the loser can still advance due to a better goal difference than India, while a draw would automatically see both teams through.
Brunei made a late withdrawal from the preliminaries and each Group E rival received a 3-0 walkover in their corresponding fixtures with the Sultanate.
To contact the reporter on this story: Dan Riley at email@example.com