Coach Prak Sovananra’s ultra-conservative approach to Cambodia’s two friendlies over the weekend ultimately failed to avoid defeats to touring South Korean side Ulsan University.
Cambodia were beaten by solitary late strikes in both matches at Olympic Stadium, although their newly appointed coach appeared relatively satisfied with his team’s performances.
“We are preparing for teams like Brunei and Laos, and I think Ulsan University is stronger than these nations, so by holding up with Ulsan, we proved to be just where I expected us to be,” Sovannara told the Post yesterday.
It was Cambodia’s sixth and seventh loss to the Koreans in eight meetings over the past four years.
Friday’s tie seemed destined for a goalless stalemate until the deadlock was finally broken in the 68th minute by Ulsan forward Kwon Tae-Cheol, who found the back of the net off a corner kick.
Cambodia pushed back in the closing stages in pursuit of an equaliser, with 18-year-old Boeung Ket striker Chan Vathanaka impressing with his work up front, but they couldn’t convert their chances.
In yesterday’s second encounter, the visitors once again managed to break a strong Cambodian defence to win the game 1-0.
The first half had both teams refusing to commit fully to attacks, with mid-park battles dominating the exchanges. Ulsan enjoyed a smattering of chances, including a Kwon Tae-Cheol effort from a free kick that cannoned off the bar moments before the interval. Two other occasions saw the Koreans hit the goal frame and it was down to sheer luck that the teams went into the break at 0-0.
Cambodia displayed some of their intent in the second session, with a Touch Pancharong free kick in the 71st minute from 30 metres out testing keeper Youn Bo-Sang. A great move between Keo Sokngorn and Phoung Soksana five minutes later was also thwarted by the Korean stopper.
Fans were already streaming out of the stands in resignation of a draw when, with two minutes remaining, Joeng Jong-Hee stepped up to score the winner. The striker steamed along the left flank and looked to be shaping up for a cross as Cambodia’s Um Vichet closed him down. The ball flew off the Korean’s foot, however, to nestle in the corner and condemn the home side to yet another defeat.