The Cambodia National Indoor Volleyball team – who just set a new record by advancing to the semi-finals for the first time at the SEA Games since 1983 – gave favourites Thailand a fright but wasted their advantage, losing the chance to bag another historic result in Hanoi on May 18.
Although they surprised everyone with their outstanding performance and led the Thai national team in the two opening sets 25-22 and 25-20, the Cambodian team could not find their rhythm in the third set to win. In the end, they lost the last three sets in a row 25-22, 25-20 and 15-11 to finish in second place in Group B.
The loss to Thailand not only disappointed Cambodian fans who watched the match, with the leaders of the Volleyball Federation of Cambodia also expressing regret over the loss. This result did not meet the goals set by the federation, nor did it help the Cambodian team to erase their 39-year losing record against Thailand.
Aing Serey Piseth, secretary-general of the federation, told The Post after the match: “We know the quality of the Thai players, which means that win or lose, we knew it would be decided in five tough sets. This loss is still a disappointing result for us, because one of the goals we set together was to break one of our most disappointing records and record a win against Thailand.”
“If we could have beaten Thailand, we would meet the second team of Group A, giving us a better shot at making the final and chasing gold or silver. Even though I say this, we do not fear any of the teams at the games. We will just have to develop a strategic plan to pave the way for easy access to the goals we want,” he said.
Speaking about the three consecutive losing sets that ended the 3-2 loss, Serey Piseth added: “We are really sorry for the result. After we did so well in the first two sets, we lost focus and perhaps our technique and conditioning was not up to the task.”
However, compared to the results of previous SEA Games, losing 3-2 to Thailand stands out as a strong one. They have not taken a single set from Thailand in their last three meetings at the games. At the 2011 SEA Games in Indonesia, 2013 in Myanmar and 2017 in Thailand, the Cambodian team lost to Thailand team with the same dismal score of 3-0.
With this result, the team, which defeated 2019 runners-up Philippines 3-1 in the opening match of Group B, will face the number one side from Group A, nine-time champions Indonesia. The semi-final match is scheduled for May 20.