Cambodia’s U23s kickstarted their SEA Games football campaign with a well-deserved 3-1 victory over the Philippines after leading 2-0 at half time in a Pool A encounter at the Jalan Besar Stadium last night.
Captain Prak Mony Odom drew first blood in the 29th minute. Midfielder Keo Sokpheng doubled the lead before the break and precocious striking talent Chan Vathanaka worked his magic as a substitute to seal the deal in the 80th minute for Cambodia, after the Philipines had pulled one back through Paolo Salenga.
The Philippine Akzals set up a couple of good chances late in the game, but could not capitalise on them and went down to their second defeat after a 1-0 loss to Singapore.
Cambodia lost no time in getting into their attacking groove, forcing a couple of set-pieces that clearly shook the Akzals backline and put goalkeeper Florencio Badelic under a lot of pressure.
With the Filipinos relying more on the long ball, the counterattacks were few and far between.
Cambodia’s midfield fluidity and attacking flair finally had its reward in the 29th minute when captain Prak Mony Odom caught the Philippine defence off guard with a pacey move from the left, positioning himself at the edge of the box to let fly a stinger that went over the outstretched hands of Badelic into the top corner of the net.
Within minutes of the opening salvo, Chhin Chheoun’s attempt from well inside the box sailed over to a collective sigh of relief in the Akzals camp. But it took another 10 minutes for Cambodia to drive their rivals back to the wall.
This time, a goalmouth frenzy saw two Filipino defenders hitting the ground to scramble the goalbound ball to safety, but Keo Sokpheng cleverly beat them to it to give his side a 2-0 lead going into the breather.
Soon after resumption, however, the Philippines pulled one back through Paolo Salenga who had worked his way deep into the Cambodian box in tandem with Kennedy Uzoka, the duo conjuring a goal similar to the famous one they had produced against Thailand in the AFC Under 22 Championships.
While the goal kept the Filipino spirits high, they managed to dodge a late bullet when the linesman called Ngin Sroy’s goal for Cambodia offside.
First golds to Singapore
Singapore’s formidable table tennis line-up claimed the SEA Games’ first gold medals on Tuesday as a star Malaysian footballer’s tournament was ended over a spitting row.
Lin Ye and Zhou Yihan covered themselves in glory when they upset higher-ranked compatriots Feng Tianwei and Yu Mengyu to win the women’s doubles and become the Games’ first champions.
Lin and Zhou, aged 19 and 21 respectively, edged a nail-biter 7-11, 11-5, 11-8, 12-10, 3-11, 10-12, 11-7 in front of enthusiastic fans at Singapore Indoor Stadium.
Gao Hing and Li Hu then demolished Thailand’s Padasak Tanviriyavechakul and Chanakarn Udomsilp 11-8, 11-8, 12-10, 11-4 to make it a clean sweep for the hosts so far.
Singapore will be favourites to finish top of the medals table at the biennial, 11-nation Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, which formally opens with a gala ceremony tomorrow.
But playmaker Nazmi Faiz became the multi-sport event’s first villain when he was banned for six games for spitting, according to Malaysia’s football association.
The sanction means highly rated Nazmi, 20, will play no further part after he was sent off for spitting at East Timor’s Filipe Oliveira in Malaysia’s 1-0 win on Saturday.
“I really regret what happened,” Nazmi said in a posting on the Twitter feed of the Professional Footballers Association of Malaysia.
“There are no excuses and I accept my punishment. I would like to apologise to all Malaysians. I didn’t mean to let the country down.”
The same game was already at the centre of controversy after East Timor’s team manager was detained and charged with match-fixing, earning a provisional ban from football.
The unique, two-week SEA Games features Olympic sports alongside regional favourites like martial art pencak silat and sepaktakraw, a volleyball-style game played with the feet.
Pistol range ‘safe’
SEA Games organisers have insisted their pistol ranges will be safe for an upcoming competition following a claim that bullets were deflected and caused injury during practice, a report said yesterday.
The pledge follows an anonymous tip-off which said that deflected shots had caused “bullet injury” and had ricocheted out of the range.
“SINGSOC can confirm that the National Shooting Centre will be ready for the 28th SEA Games precision pistol competition (PPC) when it begins on 7 June,” said a statement released by the organising committee, according to Yahoo! Singapore.
“We have been working very closely with technical experts on the safety requirements to ensure that the venue is fit for competition. SINGSOC is committed to providing our shooters a safe and exciting platform to compete in the 28th South East Asian Games.”
Safety fears were raised in an anonymous letter to Yahoo! which claimed the pistol ranges were not certified for competition.
The two-page letter was also addressed to Sport Singapore chairman Richard Seow and International Olympic Council member Ng Ser Miang, Yahoo! said.
The biennial Southeast Asia (SEA) Games, is returning to Singapore for the first time in 22 years.
Additional reporting by AFP