Twice in arrears during an action-packed second half, Cambodia staged a splendid rally to hold Laos safe at 2-2 at Olympic Stadium yesterday and grab the last semi-final spot in the 2013 Mekong Region Youth Football Tournament for the BIDC Cup.
The draw ensured Cambodia a second place finish in Pool B behind Malaysia. Cambodia will face Thailand for a place in the finals tomorrow, while Malaysia will take on Myanmar. Before the Laos-Cambodia encounter, Thailand scored once in each half to dismiss Vietnam, who were down to nine men by the 39th minute and were distressingly swept off their feet.
Sarach Yooyen gave Thailand a 41st minute lead after Vietnam defender Nguyen Minh Tung and midfielder Nguyen Van Dung got marching orders within 10 minutes of each other by referee Tuy Vichhika.
Atitach Juymanee finally put the game to bed in the 84th minute by poking the ball in during a six-yard box scramble.
The second win in the pool put Thailand right on top, with Myanmar, who had beaten Vietnam on the opening day, finishing second.
Luck runs out for Laos
The stars seemingly had some grudge against Laos and refused to align the way the side would have wished for. Seconds before half-time, defender Ketsada Souksavanh picked up his second yellow card after having been booked minutes before for a stud up challenge on Chhin Chhoeun.
Laos starting goalkeeper Seng Athit Somvang had to be pulled out late in the game after he suffered a leg injury during a skirmish and his replacement, Chintana Souksavath, needlessly charged out of his post more out of courage than any degree of confidence and left the goal open for Chhin Chhoeun to find an empty net from a long way off.
Laos coach Kokichi Kimura’s rage on the touchline was there for every one to see.
Midfielder Khonesavanh Sihavong had given Laos a dream start in the second session with a goal in the first minute only to see a minute later Keo Sokgnorn fire the equaliser at the other end.
Laos grabbed the lead again in the 59th minute through Phoutthasay Khochalern and Cambodia drew level 20 minutes later to the delight of a huge crowd.
“I am not happy with our performance. We committed the same mistakes again in defence just the way we did against Malaysia. We need to play a lot tighter at the backline,” Cambodia coach Lee Tae Hoon told the Post.
“The draw in the end worked to our advantage but we have to do things differently against a stronger side like Thailand.”
After today’s rest day, both the semi-final matches will be played tomorrow.