Cambodia stormed into the third round of qualifiers for the 2019 Asian Cup after outplaying Chinese Taipei 2-0 in the second-leg playoff to win 4-2 on aggregate at the jam-packed Olympic Stadium last night.
The teams were locked 2-2 in the first leg played at the National Stadium in Kaohsiung City last Thursday.
Defender Hong Pheng couldn’t have picked a better time to score his first goal in 14 national appearances.
The 29-year old towered over his teammates in a crowded box to head home a well-delivered curling free-kick by Chan Vathanaka in the sixth minute.
Cambodia were awarded a penalty early in the second half when Chinese Taipei goalkeeper Pan Wen Chieh brought down Chan Vathanaka on the edge of the box.
Drama ensued when Prak Mony Odoum, who had only just come on as a substitute, confidently converted the spot kick. But the referee ordered a retake. With a smile on his face, the Svay Rieng star stepped up and easily beat the goalkeeper again.
While Cambodia controlled the tempo of the game most of the way, the visitors clearly struggled when it came to counter attacks. The closest Chinese Taipei came to scoring was in the second half when Lien Chieu Hsun’s powerful free-kick hit the upright.
“It was a difficult game for us all the way,” said Chinese Taipei coach Toshiyaki Imai.Cambodia coach Lee Tae Hoon said the full-throated support of over 60,000 fans was crucial to his team’s success.
“It was a great motivating factor and I am happy we lived up to the expectations of this massive crowd,” he told the Post.
Cambodia are among the five winners from this stage of the competition, joining the 16 seeded teams in the 24-team final round of the qualifiers scheduled for March next year.
Chinese Taipei will now take on Timor Leste in another double-leg playoff for one of the three additional round-three places on offer.