Cambodia’s backline inexplicably crumbled as Vietnam plundered four goals in the last 10 minutes to complete a 5-0 victory in a group match of the 2012 AFC U16 Championship qualifiers at the Chao Anouvong Stadium in Vientiane on Saturday.
In a raucous late spell, Vietnam midfielder Vu Duy Nghi fired a brace and his fellow midfielders Nguyen Viet Thang and Nguyen Quang Hai sneaked in a goal each that saw Cambodian defence in shambles.
Before this nervous breakdown, Cambodia had put up a stout-hearted show in the first half and the better part of the second session, restricting Vietnam to a 12th-minute penalty conversion by Tran Ngoc Son, who had earned the award after the Cambodian goalkeeper Sob Ahmath had tripped him in the box.
In fact, Cambodia had created several chances of their own on the counter with Fi Roofin, In Vichay, Nup Tola and Hoy Phallin getting a close look at the Vietnam box.
The Cambodian goalkeeper came up with a good save in the 59th minute, keeping a fierce free kick from Huynh Hoang Khanh at bay, while defenders Savy Seukirin, Saret Krya and Ros Kong Samrach were holding their line well enough.
Midfielder Cring Polrath was a tad unlucky when his well-directed free kick was saved in the nick of time by Vietnam goalkeeper Duong Quang Tuan in the 73rd minute.
That was just about the end of the good tidings for Cambodia as Vietnam attackers stormed in.
“We were powerless in the last 10 minutes. We could hardly do anything right,” Cambodia captain Hoy Phallin said after the match.
Cambodia’s head coach Daisuke Yoshioka said he was disappointed by the scoreline but was also encouraged by the fact that the team had created many goal-scoring chances and had restricted Vietnam to just one goal until the 80th minute.
“So I won’t give up. I will try to bring improvements and better results,” Yoshioka said after the match.
Cambodia, with three points, are fifth in the Group F standings after three matches. South Korea head the table with seven points, ahead of Japan (six), Laos (six) and Vietnam (four). Taipei, who are yet to break their duck, are at the bottom of the table.
Cambodia meet Japan at 4pm today at the Chao Anouvang Stadium and will take on South Korea at the same time and same venue on Thursday. Cambodia are ranked 41st out of 45 competing nations, while Japan are placed fourth and South Korea 26th. North Korea are the reigning champions.
According to the official AFC website (http://www.the-afc.com), 40 teams were divided into two zones and separ-ated into seven groups of six or five teams each for the qualifiers.
Each group plays a round-robin league at a centralised venue and the top two teams from each group progress to the tournament proper next year.
The third best teams from West and East zones will complete the 16-team line-up of the 2012 finals, which has yet to have its date and venue confirmed. ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY DAN RILEY