Cambodia saw their hopes of advancing from the group stage of the AFF U19 Championship for the first time take am apparent knockout blow yesterday after a demoralising 1-1 draw with Singapore at Yangon’s Thuwunna Stadium.
With the game remaining deadlocked past the half time interval, Cambodia had their hotshot striker Phanny I Rotha dismissed on 52 minutes.
Unperturbed, the 10-man side took the lead on the hour mark via a Rous Sam Oeun strike. Singapore, who were bottom of Group A leading in to the match, then levelled the scores in the 79th minute through defender Ishak Bin Mohamed.
“We should win the game. We piled on a lot of pressure but had no chances [to score],” said team manager Ork Samnang. “The pitch is the main problem. The decisions by the referee also killed our game.”
The match was officiated by Oki Dwi Putra Senjaya of Indonesia, who also refereed Cambodia’s ill-fated game against Thailand.
The draw sees Cambodia move into second in the group, of which the top two qualify for semifinals, but will have to wait on the result of tomorrow’s tie between Malaysia and the Philippines. Malaysia, who have come runners-up in the tournament three times, require just a point against their unfancied rivals tomorrow to reclaim the crucial second spot on goal difference.
Thailand, meanwhile, confirmed their place in the knockout stage with a 5-0 thumping of the Philippines yesterday.
Group B will be decided today with games at 4pm. All four teams in action – Vietnam, Laos, Indonesia and hosts Myanmar – have the chance to progress.
Following tomorrow’s concluding round of the group stage, semifinals will be played on Monday featuring the first in group A facing the second from group B and vice-versa. The grand final, and third place playoff, is slated for Wednesday.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY UNG CHAMROEUN