Cambodia held their nerve on Tuesday night to earn a 1-1 draw away against Macau to record a 4-1 aggragate win after last Thursday’s 3-0 mauling of the Green Team to progress to the second Asian qualifying round for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
Macau had the lion’s share of possession in the first half, with Cambodia content to soak up the pressure and hit them on the counterattack.
After one such move in the first half, Svay Rieng FC’s young striker Prak Moni Udom was disappointed to see his free-kick from in front of goal sail high and wide.
After another attack in the 28th minute Macau defender Lei Ka Him fouled Cambodian skipper Khoun Laboravy near the box.
French-born midfielder Thierry Chantha Bin, who did not make an appearance in the match on home soil through injury, hit a cracking free-kick that gave Macau keeper Ho Man Fai no chance.
Macau had a good chance to equalise but the shot was well saved by Cambodian keeper Um Sereyrath to his left.
The Angkor Warriors had the better of it in the opening phases of the second half. But with both both sides playing expansive passing football on the large Macau National Stadium pitch, spaces began to open up that both teams exploited.
And the home side levelled on 52 minutes when the referee pointed the spot with Leong Ka Hang converting after So Vanna brought down Pang Chi Hang after a clever Macau ball into the Cambodian box.
Macau pressed hard but the Warrior’s defence held firm, and with Cambodia dangerous on the break, Laboravy had a chance to kill the game in added time but scuffed his shot.
Cambodia progress to the next round along with Timor Leste, Bhutan, India and Taiwan, who all won their preliminary qualifying round games. The game between Yemen and Pakistan, however, was postponed with Yemen 3-1 up from the first leg.
The six teams who progress from the preliminary round will now join 34 of the region’s stronger teams in the first qualifying group stage, and waiting in store for Cambodia are Iran, Japan, South Korea, Australia, Qatar, Oman, Jordan, Uzbekistan, United Arab Emirates, China, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon, Kuwait, Philippines, Maldives, Vietnam, Tajikistan, Myanmar, Afghanistan, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Indonesia, Laos, Guam and Bangladesh.
The teams will be divided into eight groups and will play home and away fixtures running from June 11 to March 29, 2016. The draw for the groups will be held on April 15 at the headquarters of the AFC in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.