Cambodia slumped to their third straight defeat at the 2012 AFF Suzuki Cup qualifiers in Yangon yesterday to confirm their elimination from the biennial regional tournament.
Hok Sochetra’s men came up short against their traditionally beatable opponents Brunei, surrendering a 1-0 lead at half time to lose 3-2.
The newly installed coach must now rally his troops for the expected salt in the wounds tomorrow when they face hosts Myanmar, who have won both their opening matches.
Without a point to their name in the competition from two fixtures, Cambodia came out relatively strongly at the Thuwunna YTC Stadium yesterday to take the lead through a sharp move by Prak Mony Udom on 24 minutes.
This was to be maintained until the break, with Brunei failing to convert any of their numerous corner kicks.
Striker Keo Sokngon, who was wearing the captain’s armband due to Sun Sopanha’s red card suspension, squandered two gilt-edged chances during the first half to increase the lead, while Brunei looked to grab a deserved equaliser.
That goal came shortly after the restart through Muhammad Aminuddin Zakwan Tahir, and on 63 minutes, they seized the advantage with a well-worked corner routine.
The flagkick was flicked off the head of Muhammad Shahrazen bin Said to find Muhammad Helmi bin Zambin for a collected finish past Cambodia keeper Um Vichet, who had been picked on the day ahead of usual choice Sou Yaty.
With 20 minutes remaining, Brunei pushed further in front after Khiev Vibol’s botched clearance fell to Azwan Muhammad Salleh, who duly smashed a drive into the net.
Cambodia were clearly lacking the defensive talents of Tieng Tiny, out injured and replaced by Um Vichet.
Chhum Sothearath should be commended for his effort in the middle of the park, soaking up the role of benched skipper Sun Sopanha, as he covered a lot of ground during the game and tracked back well.
Khiev Vibol atoned for his earlier blunder by supplying a corner to find the head of Khim Borey for a goal in the second minute of stoppage time.
It was a case of too little too late as Brunei held out for their first win of the tournament.
In yesterday’s later kickoff, East Timor beat Laos 3-1 to enhance their chances of grabbing one of the two qualifying spots in the finals stage, which will be co-hosted by Thailand and Malaysia from November 24 to December 22.