Cambodia opened their bid for a place in November’s AFF Suzuki Cup with a well-crafted 2-1 win over a stubborn Laos in front of the now customary full house at the Olympic Stadium yesterday evening. Brunei earlier opened the four-team qualifying tournament by beating Timor Leste also by the odd goal in three.
Cambodia drew first blood minutes before the break through a Prak Mony Odom penalty that the Svay Rieng star earned after he was brought down in the box. But the visitors’ persistence and Cambodia’s panicked reaction to a Brunei attack in their box led to Moukda Souksavath’s equaliser in the 52nd minute.
Despite Keo Sokpheng’s repeated thrusts, Cambodia kept searching as Chan Vathanaka came off the bench to step up the pressure for the go-ahead goal.
Yet solid defensive work from Laos coupled with some breakaway counterattacks held back Warriors’ coach Lee Tae Hoon’s side until the hardworking Chhin Chhoeun got the match-winner nine minutes from time.
The MND forward capped off a move from the right with an angled shot into the net past keeper Soundala that brushed past a Lao defender.
“It is a satisfying result, but we need to build on it in the next two games.
“To begin on a winning note is crucial, [but] I still feel there are areas where we could have done better. I hope I can work on them before our next match against Timor-Leste on Tuesday,” Lee Tae Hoon said.
The clash between Brunei and Timor-Leste was won and lost in the first 30 minutes of their game.
Timor-Leste exploited a defensive error to score the first goal in the 11th minute through Rufino Gama off a neat pass from captain Fonseca.
Adi Said equalised for Brunei in the 22nd minute with a powerful header. and Shafie Effendy got the winning third goal seven minutes later after earlier having missed a sitter.