A five-goal blitz during just 10 minutes of the first half of Cambodia’s friendly against Singapore on Monday night was the dominating factor in a 4-2 victory for the reigning AFF Suzuki Cup champions on their home turf at Yishun stadium.
“I’m happy because this game was a very good experience and good training, so thank you very much [Football Association of Singapore] for this invitation,” Cambodia coach Lee Tae Hoon was quoted as saying on official website fas.org.sg.
The hosts opened the scoring on nine minutes when Khairul Amri smashed home a cross expertly whipped in by teammate Shahril Ishak.
The visitors carve out an equaliser on 27 minutes through a well-taken header by Khoun Laboravy, which signalled the start of the goal fest.
Two minutes later, the Lions roared back in front with a sturdy blast along the grass by Faris Ramli.
But Laboravy once again levelled for the Angkor Warriors on the half hour mark, sneaking in for a simple tap in at the far post after captain Prak Mony Odom’s free kick into the box had evaded the defensive cluster.
Singapore then went 3-2 up with a goal on 33 minutes. Shaiful Esah’s sublimely struck set piece from outside the area curled over the wall and off the near post, as teammate Ishak responded the quickest with a firm shot past keeper Sou Yaty.
Within four minutes, the ASEAN champs were finally home and dry, capitalising on some lapse defending for Safuwan Baharudin to slot in their fourth goal of the game.
“The first half was for spectators, but it is absolutely nothing for coaches to allow two goals and four clear chances. It is a matter we have to correct; we did so in the second half,” Singapore coach Bernd Stange told www.fas.org.sg, following a goalless period after the break.
Lee, meanwhile, expressed his surprise at the apparent improvement of their opponents, who had edged them 1-0 in their previous encounter just under a year ago.
“Surely a very different style right now – they [were] slower last time,” said Lee.
“Now they are quicker, some players showed very different movements into our penalty box. I don’t know Singapore’s best squad, but I think the coach hid some players. They showed [some weakness] in the first half, but they improved after that.”
While Cambodia return home with little to look forward to until the 2015 SEA Games back in Singapore next June, the Lions will aim to extend their regional supremacy as the Suzuki Cup finals kicks off its group stage this weekend.
Having beaten Laos 2-0 in another tune-up friendly at home last Friday, Singapore now play host to Group B matches, which will see them face three-time winners Thailand – who they beat in the final of the 2012 edition – at the newly renovated National Stadium on Sunday before coming up against 2010 titlists Malaysia and Myanmar.
In Hanoi on Saturday, the Philippines clash with Laos in the start of Group A, which includes 2008 champions Vietnam and four-time runners-up Indonesia.
“I think two comfortable wins in a row with Laos and Cambodia with a two-goal difference gives us a lot of confidence for the AFF Suzuki Cup,” said Stange.
“We missed too many chances to make it a disaster for Cambodia, but the players are happy and confident. We tested players today and it leaves us in a good mood for the next five days.
“We are ready to go,” he added.