Upset victory over Vietnam’s HAGL sets pace for home team in opening play of this week’s BIDC Cup tournament; Laos and VNB fight to a 1-1 draw.
This competition is a perfect opportunity to prepare ourselves for the SEA games.
THE Cambodian under-23 footballers pulled off a major shock and did it in style as they pummelled Hoang Anh Gia Lai (HAGL) into submission on Sunday with a 3-2 comeback victory.
The much-fancied Vietnam Leaguers led by two clear goals just after halftime and looked to be coasting to success in the second match of the four-team BIDC Cup at the Olympic Stadium.
However, they didn’t bargain for the young Cambodians’ fighting spirit and the dazzling skills of the diminutive Nov Soseila. It was the Army wingman who led the HAGL defence on a merry dance for much of the game, eliciting roars of approval from the Cambodian supporters in the main stand.
On 57 minutes, Soseila jinked into the box and was floored by HAGL fullback Phung Van Nhien.
Khim Borey, playing his first competitive match in six months, stepped up to send the goalkeeper the wrong way from the penalty spot.
With the bit between their teeth, Cambodia should’ve equalized when Keo Sokngorn set up Oum Kumpheak with a wonderful close-range chance, only for the teenage substitute to miss-kick in front of goal.
Three minutes later, on 72 minutes, Chan Chhaya carried the ball into the HAGL box and went down under a clumsy challenge from Nguyen Vit Anh.
Thai referee Veerapool Prayoon pointed to the spot, Borey made no mistake with his second penalty, and Cambodia were deservedly level.
It took another four minutes before Cambodia reaped the rewards for their attacking style when HAGL keeper Nguyen Tuan Manh failed to hold a Sun Sovannarith cross and 17-year-old substitute Prak Mony Udom was on hand to tuck the ball into the net and wheel away in delight as Cambodia forged ahead.
HAGL were shell-shocked and offered little resistance. Keo Sokngorn and Oum Kumpheak wasted two more gilt-edged opportunities to extend Cambodia’s lead as the home team coasted to a remarkable 3-2 success.
The Vietnamese club side, expected to push for V-League honours next season, had shaded the first half and led after 27 minutes when Bui Xuan Hieu’s header crept in at the far post.
They doubled their lead five minutes past the half-time interval when Khuat Huu Long netted from close range after a goalmouth melee.
Cambodia’s national team coach, Australian-born Scott O’Donell was a happy man at the final whistle.
“I was very pleased with the character of the boys tonight. They can take great credit from that performance. We conceded two soft goals from set pieces, and we have still got to improve on all aspects of our play, but they gave me everything they had, and its a great morale boost for them,” he said.
“It was great to play and win in front of our own supporters, and they were great, too, even when we were 2-nil down. This competition is a perfect opportunity to prepare ourselves for the SEA Games next month,” O’Donell added.
In the opening match of the round-robin BIDC Cup, the Laos U23s and the V-League new boys Vissai Ninh Binh (VNB) played out a 1-1 draw.
Sayavuthi Khampeng opened the scoring for Laos with a well-taken solo goal after 10 minutes, with VNB equalizing on 26 minutes when Dang Van Thanh rose highest to head home the leveller.
Laos U23s will be Cambodia’s next opponents today (kickoff 6pm). HAGL will meet VNB on the same day (kickoff 3:30pm).