A hat-trick by Yan Pheara hauled Cambodia to a thrilling 3-2 victory over Sweden in the group stage of the Paris 2011 Homeless Football World Cup on Monday.
Cambodia’s first win in Group F, sandwiched between identical 7-2 defeats against Belgium and South Africa, came in a match of swinging fortunes against a side which enjoyed a clear advantage in physique but was less proficient in technique.
A firm shot by Pheara set the score ticking for Cambodia, though Sweden quickly restored parity. Pheara then rammed home two more to complete a well deserving treble before Sweden reduced the margin late in the game.
“I feel like I am flying like a bird. I am so proud to be a Cambodian,” Yan Pheara said after the match.
Cambodia’s head coach Jimmy Campbell gave insight into their success by email from Paris.
“Again we were playing against a physically bigger team but not as technically sound as Belgium. We decided to press in their half and most of the time we won the ball back and controlled the game,” he said.
“We are delighted to get the three points. It’s a big boost for our confidence.”
In an earlier match on Monday, a late rally by Cambodia was not good enough to contain a big and powerful South African line-up, who took a 3-0 lead by half time. With three minutes to go, South Africa shot into a 7-0 lead before Kim Vanda and Chan Bros Pich came up with Cambodia’s consolation goals.
“Our players worked very hard. We scored twice in the end which was good,” said Campbell.
“Our goalkeeper Noun Oudom was again superb making many great saves. I was also very happy for Chan Bros Pich, who hasn’t had much game time up to now. We are trying to utilise all our squad players.”
Meanwhile on Monday, reigning champions and Cambodia group-mates Brazil swarmed all over Belgium in a 15-1 victory and followed the rout with a 9-1 win over South Africa. Cambodia were set to face the Brazilians as well as a talented Austrian side yesterday after time of print.
In other tournament ties on Monday at the specially constructed Champs de Mars park pitch, England had a bittersweet day in losing to Portugal on penalties after a 7-7 regulation finish but trouncing classic rivals Australia 18-1.
The most thrilling game of the day was between Indonesia and Scotland, which ended 8-8. The South East Asians kept their nerve from the spotkicks to complete a sensational victory.
Of the remaining Asian teams, only the Philippines registered a single win on Monday, beating USA 4-3. South Korea, Hong Kong and Japan all suffered double defeats, while India lost all three, including a penalty shoot out against Canada.