Cambodia at last overcame their Singapore blues by beating the visiting Lions 2-1 in the international football friendly at the Olympic Stadium last night, ending a string of disappointing results against the city-state, including their home and away defeats in the second round of last year’s World Cup qualifiers.
Despite having defender Hong Pheng sent off in the 76th minute, Cambodia determinedly held on to their first-half advantage. A sterling performance in the Cambodian goal by Sou Yaty and a resolute defence kept Singapore at bay during a second half marked by several narrow misses by the visitors.
Dispelling injury concerns, speedy striker Chan Vathanaka passed a fitness test and made it into the starting line-up. And the 20-year-old Boeung Ket striker played a lead role in the encounter, scoring the first goal and setting up Tith Dina for the second.
After rain delayed kick-off by nearly an hour, the Lions quickly got into their stride with a couple of close attempts. It took a spectacular save from Cambodian goalkeeper Sou Yaty to keep out midfielder Hafiz Abu Sujad’s close-range effort.
But having parried a number of Singaporean thrusts, Cambodia got a decisive break when the fast-advancing Sos Sohana was tripped on the edge of the box by defender Shakir Hamza.
Chan Vathanaka stepped up and curled a beautiful left-footed free-kick into the top right corner of the net.
However, Singapore restored parity within minutes, with a long ball from Izzdin Shafiq headed in by the unmarked Khairul Amri.Both sides endured some anxious moments as half-time approached. But seconds into added time, Vathanaka perfectly centred the ball for the onrushing Tith Dina and the National Police striker polished off the move with a tidy finish to put Cambodia back in command.