Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Cambodia beat Laos 4-2 in World Cup qualifier first leg

Cambodia beat Laos 4-2 in World Cup qualifier first leg

Cambodia beat Laos 4-2 in World Cup qualifier first leg

{jathumbnail}

Photos by: Sreng Meng Srun

A sensational second half blitz saw Cambodia bounce back from a first half one-goal deficit to record a commanding 4-2 victory over Laos in the first leg of their FIFA World Cup Asian Group first round qualifier at Olympic Stadium yesterday.

A stunning free kick ten minutes into the game by Laos midfielder Phomsouvanh Monolom triggered an eerie silence in the stands but a crowd of well over 10,000 erupted in wild celebrations as the Cambodian strike force of Khuon Laboravy, Kuoch Sokumpheak and substitute Sam El Nasa came out of the trenches and kept hitting the target.

In a complete shake up of the first half script, the home side adopted a refreshingly bold approach as Laboravy gained free access into the shot box to beat Laos goalkeeper Chintana Souksavath six minutes after the break. The equaliser clearly shifted the momentum in favour of Cambodia, and moments later Sam El Nasa streamed through the back line and clipped the ball round Chintana to fire his side into the lead

The visitors responded with another top notch set piece conversion by Phomsouvanh to level the scores, but within minutes Kouch Sokumpheak capped off a fleet-footed dash into the box with a deft finish to haul the home side to the front again.

With the seconds ticking away in the fixture, Sokumpheak conveyed a neat cutback to the fast advancing Sam El Nasa, who gleefully deflected the ball in for his well-deserved brace.

A last ditch header by hard working midfielder Vongchiengkham Soukaphone sailed over the bar confirming Cambodia’s two-goal advantage ahead of this Sunday’s return leg in Vientiane.

Cambodia head coach Lee Tae Hoon cautioned at the post match press conference that the contest was far from over, with plenty of work needed to be done before the second leg. “Yes, I am happy with the scoreline, but there are still lot of problems and defence is one of them,” he said.

“For example we conceded those two crucial free kicks which Laos turned into goals. With a little tact by our defenders we could have avoided them. We tend to give away possession quite easily and I want to work on this aspect.”

South Korean born Lee revealed his half time pep talk had resonated well within his team. “At the break I told the players don’t look back at what happened. Win or lose go for it. Be more positive and try to avoid long passes,” he said.

“It’s all about confidence and you need to regain that as quickly as you can.”

The coach added he was pleased to see his tactics alter the balance on the pitch.

“I had to take out Tum Saray early because I saw him come under a lot of pressure and he was seemingly overawed by the occasion. So I replaced him with Sam El Nasa, who is a smart player and an experienced one.”

Casting a glance towards Sunday’s second leg, the coach noted that “playing away is always tough for any side,” adding: “we need to do our best.”

Laos head coach Hans-Peter Schaller, meanwhile, admitted his side made it too easy for Cambodia to score. “You cannot make so many individual mistakes and still hope for a better result than this,” he said.

“We play at the same level and the result was no surprise to me. Even I felt it was not too bad if it were to be 3-2, but 4-2 is giving away a lot.

The 48-year-old Austrian blamed his “very young and inexperienced team” for the loss. “In fact, we missed out on as many as six key players including a couple of good defenders and a good striker. Its all about confidence and some of them are playing here for the first time.

“When you begin to lose confidence you begin to make a lot of errors and that is what happened with some of my players today,” he added.

“If we cannot beat Cambodia at home, we are not good enough. It is tough, but we will give our best in the second leg.”

The winner over the two legs will advance to the second round where they will face China in a further set of matches on July 23 and 28.

In the four other Asian group first legs yesterday that had completed by time of print, Nepal recorded a 2-1 home win over Timor-Leste, Mongolia edged Myanmar 1-0 in Ulan Bator, Sri Lanka and the Philippines ended deadlocked at 1-1 in Colombo, and Palestine grabbed two vital away goals in their 2-0 defeat of Afghanistan.

MOST VIEWED

  • Investors’ $14.4M projects approved

    New investments from local and foreign sources continue to pour into Cambodia despite the Covid-19 pandemic remaining a lingering threat to regional and global economies. This comes as the Kingdom’s gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to contract between one and 2.9 per cent this

  • NagaWorld casinos set to reopen, schools to follow

    NAGACORP Ltd has requested that it be allowed to reopen its NagaWorld integrated resorts in Phnom Penh after the government recently approved casinos to operate again, provided they follow Covid-19 prevention measures set by the Ministry of Health. Mey Vann, the director-general of the Ministry

  • Rubber exports stretch 17%

    Cambodia exported 97,175 tonnes of natural rubber in the first five months of this year, surging 17 per cent compared to the same period last year as the Covid-19 pandemic stretches on, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries official Khuong Phalla told The Post on Thursday. Phalla,

  • ASEM supports Kingdom’s proposal to postpone meeting amid Covid

    The 13th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM13) scheduled to be held in Cambodia in November has been postponed until mid-2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation press statement released on Saturday said. The decision was made during a two-day meeting

  • Coffee maker roasted for producing fake product

    The Ministry of Interior’s Counter Counterfeit Committee will send a suspect to court on Monday after she allegedly roasted coffee mixed with soybeans and other ingredients, creating a product which could pose a high risk to consumers’ health. On the afternoon of July 2, the

  • Cash handout programme 80% complete

    Minister of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation Vong Soth confirmed on Thursday that the implementation of the Cash Transfer Programme For Poor and Vulnerable Households During Covid-19 had been implemented for more than 80% of the over 560,000 families. The programme was introduced one week ago.

  • Cambodia armed with money laundering laws

    Money laundering will now carry a penalty of up to five years in prison while those convicted of financing terrorists will be jailed for up to 20 years, according to new laws promulgated by King Norodom Sihamoni and seen by The Post on Thursday. Comprising nine

  • Where is Cambodia’s exit strategy that can save the economy?

    With the prospect of being slammed by a double whammy, the government is working on an economic recovery plan to deliver it from Covid-19 and the EU’s partial withdrawal of the Everything But Arms scheme in the next two to three years Cambodia is

  • Schools to be reopened in ‘three stages’

    With guidance from Prime Minister Hun Sen, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, is in the process of reopening schools in three stages. But no timeline has been set, ministry spokesperson Ros Soveacha said on Thursday. Soveacha said the first stage will be to

  • Kingdom, UN discuss rights

    A year after Cambodia received 198 recommendations from UN member countries, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR-Cambodia) met with the Cambodia Human Rights Committee (CHRC) to discuss following-up on the Kingdom’s third cycle of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) and