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Angkor Warriors crash out of 2020 AFC U-23s

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Cambodian U-23 played against the Australia side at Olympic Stadium last week. FFC

Angkor Warriors crash out of 2020 AFC U-23s

Cambodia conceded a dozen goals in their opening two matches to crash out of the 2020 AFC U-23 Championship Qualifiers at Olympic Stadium.

On Friday the Angkor Warriors faced the daunting prospect of trying to get something against a talented Australia side.

It soon became clear that it was going to be a long night as the Olyroos missed a series of chances in the opening stages.

The Australians finally took the lead in the 21st minute and didn’t look back. Two more goals in three minutes made it 3-0 by the 31st minute and a fourth came just before half-time.

Cambodia’s had recorded their first shot just moments earlier but attacker Khien Menghour’s attempt was comfortably saved.

The second half cooled down somewhat but there was no coming back for the Angkor Warriors on a hot and sobering night in the capital.

The fifth goal came in the 68th minute and, with the final kick of the game, Australia made it 6-0 and sealed a comfortable thrashing.

Sunday’s meeting with South Korea, then, became a must-win for the Kouprey Blue but it wasn’t to be.

Watched on by the national team head coach, Japan legend Keisuke Honda, who joined U-23’s boss Felix Dalmas in dug out, Cambodia shipped another half-dozen against the indomitable Koreans – who had taken the gold medal at the 2014 and 2018 Asian Games.

Goals in the fourth and eighth minutes suggested a hammering to outstrip Friday’s result might be on the way.

But to their credit the young warriors settled well and created chances of their own.

In the 15th minute, 19-year-old Ministry of National Defence star Narong Kakada went closest and a goal then would have given Cambodia a lift to feel they could get something out of the match.

It did remain 2-0 until the break, and Dalmas will have still hoped in the dressing room that his charges some could get back into the tie.

It was Korea who scored next, however, netting 12 minutes into the second period to make it 3-0.

But then came Cambodia’s shining moment over the two matches – a much-needed goal to lift the team and, perhaps more importantly, the loyal and vociferous home crowd.

Kakada was the man – firing past the keeper in the 60th minute after 18-year-old midfielder Teath Kim Heng had dispossessed a Korean defender.

The Angkor Warriors did put the ball in the net again in the 80th minute, but it was at the wrong end as Ouk Souvann could only help a cross into his own net.

Two late goals in the 84th and 93rd minutes saw the game finish 6-1.

It means Cambodia will miss out on the finals in Thailand in 2020, but they will be optimistic of going out on a high in their final qualifier on Tuesday night. Kicking off at 8pm, they face a Chinese Taipei side who let in 14 goals in their two ties, scoring none.

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