SamEl Nasa’s dramatic extra-time winner in Macau on Wednesday night secured Cambodia a place in Group C of the 2012 AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers, ending with a 5-4 aggregate score over the former Portuguese colony.
Things had looked promising for the Kingdom as they extended their 3-1 lead from the first leg with a strike by Khim Borey in injury time of the first half.
Borey, who signed with Thai Premier League club Sisaket FC last month, was then replaced by veteran Preah Khan Reach forward Sam El Nasa on the hour mark.
Moments later, the hosts began a 13-minute spell that saw them claw right back into the tie. Midfielder Wong Vernon started the fightback before substitute Leong Ka Hang pegged another back in the 73rd minute.
And just two minutes more saw things leveled with Vinicio de Jesus Morais Alves also coming off the Macau bench to score, sending the home fans wild and the visitors into shellshock.
However, Cambodia remained resolute to the end and the experience of Sam El Nasa shone through as he helped avoid an imminent penalty shootout by netting in the 107th minute to send them through.
Cambodia, ranked 166th in FIFA World rankings, will now face Group C hosts the Maldives (160th), as well as 2006 inaugural champions Tajikistan (141st) and Kyrgyzstan (175th) in games played from March 20-31. The top two teams from the round robin tournament will qualify for the finals to be played next year.