The Cambodian men’s U23 football team will play hot favourites Thailand on May 14 at 7pm. The match is a must-win for both sides, with the winner taking three points – and a shot at making the semi-finals – and the loser dumped out of the competition.

In the first two matches, Thailand and Cambodia ended their respective matches with one win and one loss, thus earning the same three points. Thailand lost 2-1 to Malaysia but came back with a 5-1 win over Singapore. Cambodia beat Laos 4-1 in their opening game but lost 1-0 to Singapore on May 11. When comparing the two teams’ results against Singapore, the Cambodian side certainly looks fragile, while the Thais look to have found their form at the right time.

Ryu Hirose, the Japanese head coach of the Cambodian youngsters, said however that he did not think his team would meet with bad luck again in this weekend’s clash with Thailand. He explained that his squad created many good chances against Singapore but were not fortunate enough to convert them into goals.

“In the last game, luck was not on the side of the Young Kouprey – in several situations they should have scored goals, but could not finish them,” he said, noting that this means Cambodia definitely has a chance in the coming match.

“We have two games left, especially with Thailand up next,” Hirose said in a May 11 post-match press conference. “We just have a few lessons to learn, and we will play perfectly. This game promises to be a surprise and there are many exciting aspects to it.”

Hirose hoped the Cambodian side would be able to correct the mistakes they made during their 1-0 loss to Singapore.

“Communication among our defence in the game against Singapore was not very good and this is something we are worried about ahead of the next match. Hopefully we can overcome this issue,” he said.

Thailand coach Mano Polking also urged his team to focus on the last two matches against Cambodia and Laos.

“I think both teams are very strong. We always respect them and I always advise players to remain humble and avoid committing any mistakes. We will have to fight for every game because we still have a lot of problems to overcome and improve on,” he said.

“Cambodia is a young team, but they are well organised and are united with a strong team spirit. They have the support of experienced Japanese coaches who have helped develop Cambodian football. When they met Laos, they were prepared to play quality football,” added Polking.

On the same day, the women’s team face the challenge of host Vietnam’s lethal side. The 7pm match may be the last game of this, their first games’ appearance. With only three sides in Group A, their opening 5-0 loss to the Philippines may have already decided their fate.

The Vietnamese women are a strong team who beat the Philippines 2-1, so a meeting with the Cambodian women’s team is not expected to present an obstacle in their march to the semi-finals.