Preah Khan Reach counted themselves unlucky after being edged out 4-3 by the Malaysian U21 national team on Tuesday in their friendly match at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium in Kuala Lumpur. With the game switched to the astroturf pitch due to rain, the Cambodian side found it difficult to adjust to a surface that most had never played on before. Three times in succession PKR came from behind to level the score, but fell to a late strike by the home side.
In-form frontman Khuonla Boravy netted a brace in the first half, as PKR showed they were up to the challenge of their young rivals who had taken the lead twice. Despite their resilience, coach Rith Dikar was left ruing a spate of missed opportunities. “We were unlucky because we created so many chances, but were guilty of poor finishing in the final third,” he said.
PKR came into the second half with greater intent, but a momentary lapse of concentration at the back put the Malaysians once again in the driving seat. Rith Dikar brought on young sensation Chan Vathanak on the hour mark, and the 16-year-old quickly made his presence known and grabbed an equaliser.
“I am happy with the good play and control of the ball, and Vathanak’s introduction gave us more bite in the attack,” said the coach.
However, as the Cambodian team were looking like heading home with a respectable draw on Tuesday, the Malaysian outfit took last blood to claim the victory.
“We lost but we were not disgraced,” said Rith Dikar at Phnom Penh airport yesterday. “I am very satisfied with our performance and we can now look forward to our game on Sunday [against third-place Build Bright United], which I hope we will win following the experience from our Malaysian trip.”
Several clubs have apparently extended invitations to the team to return to Malaysia for future friendlies, which Rith Dikar said will be considered after the Metfone C-League’s conclusion next month.