Cambodian national football team coach Prak Sovannara gives instructions to players during a pre-tournament training session on April 21.
CAMBODIA have it all to do in their remaining two matches of the AFC Challenge Cup Qualifying Group if they are to reach the competition's final stages in India next year.
Their opening day 1-0 defeat against the host nation Bangladesh Sunday has left them with a mountain to climb to achieve qualification. Played in front of a sparse 8,000 crowd at the National Stadium in Dhaka, Cambodia weathered an early storm from the home team and played to their first-half game plan of allowing their opponents time on the ball and then counter-attacking down the flanks when the opportunity arose. With the Cambodian goalkeeper Samreth Seiha in fine form to deny Bangladesh at one end, it was substitute Khoun Laboravy who fluffed a one-on-one situation at the other end just before the half-time interval.
After the break, Cambodia came strongly into the game and saw chances for Kouch Sokumpheak and Sam El Nasa go begging before the home team got the all-important goal on 73 minutes.
A giveaway free-kick was headed in at close range by Enamul Haque to put Bangladesh into the lead, which they held onto to register their first international victory in three years and the end of a 25-match run without success.
Cambodian national coach Prak Sovannara remained upbeat about his team's showing.
"Yes, of course, I am very disappointed with the final result but my players have put on a good performance from start to finish. They showed good team spirit, good discipline and a great attitude against the hosts, but they also showed the Bangladesh team a little too much respect.
My team kept their focus, and if we had taken our chances, the result could have been different. I am confident that if we keep doing all the right things, and can be more creative, we can win the next two games."
Cambodia's next match is against the minnows of Macau on Tuesday, who were soundly beaten 4-0 by Myanmar in the opening game of the qualifying group. They then meet the favourites Myanmar on Thursday in the final game.