Sreng Meng Srun/Phnom Penh Post
Cambodia’s Phoung Soksana (right) controls the ball in front of Malaysia’s Mohammed Affize Faisal Mamat during their friendly match at Olympic Stadium on Saturday.
Malaysia’s SEA Games gold-medal-winning team played well within themselves to beat Cambodia’s U21 side 1-0 in a friendly fixture at Olympic Stadium on Saturday.
With national coach Lee Tae Hoon of South Korea testing out new formations ahead of Cambodia’s trip to Brunei next month for an U21 regional tournament, the match-up against a decidedly strong Malaysian side had its benefits for the home team.
The visitors had a dominant first half with some crisp passing and movement from their newly formed squad that included four 18-year-olds.
But it was Tum Saray’s costly miss that stood out like a sore thumb in the first half of intense play, which saw Prak Mony Udom come up with several pleasing crosses.
Tum Saray was bang in front of an open Malaysian goal but unaccountably delayed taking a shot, allowing Mohammed Shahril Saari to come up with a save in the nick of time.
As if to punish this extraordinary miss, Malaysia found the net off the next counter-attack. Following a chain of three passes down the left, the ball eventually reached Izuan Solahuddin, who fired home assuredly from 10 metres out.
Armed with that first goal, Malaysia went for Cambodia’s throat with renewed vigour, although the home backline and goalkeeper Sor Sophea managed to keep the tourists at bay.
On the break, Tum Saray came close to an equaliser in the 76th minute, but his less-than-firm strike from the top of the box gave enough time for defender Nazirul Naim Che Hashim to come up with a goal-line clearance. That effectively shut down the Kingdom’s hopes of sharing the honours.
Coach Lee Tae Hoon made six substitutions during the game, but none of them provided any telling fire-power. Frontliner Phoung Soksana often found himself either isolated or off-side.
Lee Tae Hoon made a defensive substitution in the 28th minute, replacing central defender Naeng Chenla with Moul Daravoan, who struck an impressive partnership with the experienced Sok Rithy.
Malaysia played confidently and defended well throughout and richly deserved their victory.
After the contest, Lee singled out midfielder Chhun Sothearath and defender Sok Rithy for special praise. “Tum Saray played well but lacked confidence when it came to the finish. The team needs more training and more experience,” the coach said.
His Malaysian counterpart, Ong Kim Swee, said his team had played at a good tempo and rhythm, and noted the game was very good experience for his players and excellent prepar-ation for their entry to the upcoming Singapore S-League.
The Malaysian coach also commended the Cambodian side, saying that more experience would definitely bring better results.
Two more friendlies in the lead-up to the Brunei trip have been scheduled against a Korean University side at the Olympic Stadium on January 27 and 29. Both matches are set to kick off at 4pm.