O'Donell says his players lacked clinical finishing as they beat minnows East Timor by a comfortable 4-1 margin on Sunday
Malaysia defends players after SEA Games scuffle
KUALA LUMPUR – Malaysian football officials Monday defended their team after a scuffle at the Southeast Asian Games that saw angry players chase the referee, who fled the pitch under police escort. The Malaysian Under-23 players let loose after suffering a 3-1 loss to Vietnam in the Laotian capital Vientiane on Sunday – a huge setback in efforts to qualify for the semifinals. Malaysian and Vietnamese newspapers said the players threw bottles and chased South Korean referee Kim Jong-hyeok, who had to run to the middle of the ground to escape his pursuers. Security forces later moved in to protect the referee and escort him off the pitch while the Malaysian players were calmed by their coach. Malaysian officials admitted the team had behaved badly but said they had been provoked. “We have registered our strong protest and concern at the referee who seemed to be unfair and biased against the Malaysian team,” said Khairy Jamaluddin, the deputy chairman of the Football Association of Malaysia. “This was the direct cause of the behaviour of some of our players. Of course bad behaviour can never be excused, but we were very unhappy with the quality of the refereeing.” AFP
CAMBODIA kick-started their hopes of a Southeast Asian Games men’s football semifinal berth with a comfortable 4-1 win over the tenacious but ineffective East Timor team Sunday. Two goals apiece from Keo Sokngorn and Kuoch Sokumpheak emphasised the one-sided nature of the game, though wayward finishing kept the scoreline less dramatic than it could’ve been, as national coach Scott O’Donell expained.
“We’ve got to be more clinical in front of goal,” he noted. “We created lots of chances, and in tournament football where goal difference may count, conceding a late goal is disappointing, as is missing so many chances. We got into great positions, but instead of shooting we tried to pass the ball into the net.
“The players have to have more confidence in themselves. I think I’ve got more confidence in them than they’ve got in themselves. I want the boys to shoot, I’ve told them so many times - probably five million now - that if we don’t shoot we don’t score, and today was a perfect example.”
In front of a small crowd of just 300 spectators at the National Stadium in Vientiane, Cambodia took control of the game from the outset, dominating possession and pressing the Timor defence into the final third of the pitch.
On 15 minutes, Keo Sok-ngorn was tripped by Emanuel Abel as he broke into the box, but Khim Borey’s penalty kick was pushed out by Timor goalkeeper Diamantino Leong.
Cambodia didn’t have to wait too long before finding the back of the net, taking the lead four minutes later. Kuoch Sokumpheak scampered after a loose ball and swung in a delightful left-foot cross, which eluded Leong, and Keo Sokngorn nodded in at the far post.
With Sun Sovannarith and Pheak Rady maurauding down both flanks, Cambodia gave Timor no respite, extending their lead on 33 minutes. Timor centre-half Anggisu Barbosa was mugged in possession by the tigerish Kuoch Sokumpheak, who broke into the penalty box and slotted home a second goal with ease.
Timor’s Bartolomeu Valadares sent in a cross that Samreth Seiha in the Cambodia goal took comfortably. It was his first activity of any note, and it came in the 37th minute.
The one-way traffic continued after the break with Kuoch Sokumpheak and Khim Borey squandering good opportunities. Fresh legs in the form of Nov Soseila and Khuonla Boravy entered the fray, and it was the latter who broke clear, only to be denied by a last-ditch tackle as he shaped to shoot.
Kuoch Sokumpheak and Khim Borey were the guilty men again as more chances went begging, with Khim’s far post volley spectacular but off target.
A third goal finally arrived on 81 minutes thanks to a decisive approach by Kuoch, as he rode two tackles and slid a pass to Keo Sokngorn. The teen powered a shot inside the near post for his second goal.
A minute later, the miss of the match fell to Kuoch, who miscued a Khuonla Boravy centre in front of goal. Khuonla then used his height to get on the end of a Tieng Tiny free kick, but keeper Leong’s fingertip save denied the substitute a goal.
A rash challenge by Cambodia’s skipper Sun Sovannarith earned him a booking on 84 minutes that will see him sidelined for the next game.
Not to be denied, Kuoch netted his second and Cambodia’s fourth with three minutes to go. He had the simplest of tasks, tucking the ball into a gaping goal after good approach work by Khuonla had created the space.
In the last minute, Timor grabbed their moment of glory when they caught Cambodian keeper Samreth Seiha out with a far-post volley from Joao Pereira in their only serious shot on target of the whole game.
Coach O’Donell was pleased with the result. “I told the players nothing less than three points would be acceptable to me, and I was quite happy with the way we played,” he said.
“We played some good football, particularly in the first half. They did what I asked them to do and it was good.
“The boys were disciplined. I asked them to be patient, I asked then to move the ball around, not to run with the ball, and they tried to do that, and that’s very pleasing. The thing that’s disappointing was the fact that we let them score a goal.”