Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Cambodia stun Myanmar to set up final showdown with Timor-Leste



Cambodia stun Myanmar to set up final showdown with Timor-Leste

Camobodia coach Prak Sovannara praised his young side's team spirit after their victory over Myanmar on Wednesday night.
Cambodia coach Prak Sovannara praised his young side's team spirit after their victory over Myanmar on Wednesday night.

Cambodia stun Myanmar to set up final showdown with Timor-Leste

For the first time in nearly a decade, Cambodia's National Football Team is well poised to bring home silverware from a major regional tournament, following a 2-1 win over a much favoured Myanmar side in the semifinals of the U22 Hassanal Bolkiah Trophy at the HB National Stadium in Brunei Darussalam on Wednesday night.

And as Cambodia were scripting their story of pluck, perseverance and pride, Timor-Leste, the “Little Samba Nation”, were writing a glorious chapter in their own at the Track and Field Sports Complex, where they mastered Singapore 2-1 to set up a final showdown with the Young Warriors on May 5, in a matchup few would have dared predict when the event began on April 23.

Back in 2009, Cambodia won the four-team BIDC Cup, but ever since the team has been chasing shadows, often confined to appearances in the SEA Games and making it past the early stages of qualification for major events, making the second round of regional World Cup qualifying in 2018 and the third round of Asian Cup qualifying this year, but never quite threatening to land a big success.

But hard-working Ministry of National Defense midfielder Narong Kakada helped pave the way a Cambodian final appearance with a first-half brace that went unanswered after an own goal from defender Soeuy Visal just before the break.

Goalkeeper Keo Soksela and a sturdy defence effectively thwarted several attempts by Myanmar to claw their way back into the game in a fiercely combative second session, but the day unquestionably belonged to coach Prak Sovannara and his group of highly motivated players.

Stunning comeback

Playing down the significance of the own goal as just a hazard of defending, coach Sovannara credited the victory to the superb team spirit shown by the players.

Part of Portugal until 1975 and then Indonesia until the turn of the century, Timor-Leste beat Cambodia to win their first international match as an independent state in October 2012.

The footballing fortunes of the newest member of the South East Asian bloc have begun to look up over the past few years, and the team has now succeeded in reaching a final after a stunning second-half comeback against Singapore

Recovering from their 1-0 loss to Cambodia in the final Pool B tie, Singapore took a 34th minute lead through Ikhsan Fandi and held on to it until Timor-Leste turned the game on its head with two goals in two minutes from Rufino Gama and Henrique Cruz with a little over 10 minutes to go.

And now whoever wins the final on Saturday, a new name will enter the region's roll of honour, warning the better established teams that Cambodia and Timor-Leste should no longer be regarded as mere participants but now as real contenders.

MOST VIEWED

  • Restrictions re-imposed in capital as Covid cases surge

    Amid the ongoing community outbreak of Covid-19, which has shown no sign of subsiding with 750 infections and 10 deaths reported on June 2 alone, the Phnom Penh Municipal Administration has decided to re-impose the suspension of all occupations and business activities deemed as posing high risk of

  • Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville expressway 51% complete

    The construction of the nearly $2 billion Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville Expressway is 51.35 per cent complete and is expected to be finished in 2023, according to Ministry of Public Works and Transport secretary of state Vasim Sorya. Invested in by Cambodian PPSHV Expressway Co Ltd, the first expressway in

  • With herd immunity likely in 2022, is Cambodia ready to reopen for tourism?

    The government aims to inoculate 80 per cent of the target population by June next year, giving it a head start among regional peers to reboot the sector but first, it has to do a few things to up its game A sign on a glass

  • First 7-Eleven store to open mid-June, ambassador says

    Thai retail conglomerate CP All Pcl will open Cambodia’s first 7-Eleven convenience store in mid-June, Cambodian ambassador to Thailand Ouk Sorphorn told The Post on June 1. The Bangkok-listed 7-Eleven franchise operator, the retail arm of Charoen Pokphand Group Co Ltd, granted CP All (Cambodia)

  • US wants 'full access' to Ream Naval Base

    On June 11, the US embassy's Defense Attaché Colonel Marcus M Ferrara visited Ream Nava Base in coordination with Cambodian officials following the recent approval of Prime minister Hun Sen to allay the concerns on Chinese military presence at the base as raised by US Deputy

  • US embassy guard gets Covid despite two doses of Pfizer jab

    The Covid-19 tracking commission on June 4 said a security guard at the US embassy in Phnom Penh had contracted the novel coronavirus, despite having received a second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech shot two weeks ago. Embassy spokesperson Chad Roedemeier confirmed the SARS-CoV-2 infection to The