Cambodia crashed out of the 2014 World Cup first round qualifiers last night after their roller-coaster second leg against Laos ended 6-2. The 4-2 scoreline in favour of the Kingdom from their home leg on Wednesday was mirrored in dramatic fashion in regulation time in Vientiane, but the hosts sealed their historic debut appearance in the second round with two strikes in extra time.
Laos advance to face China in another set of home and away legs to be played on July 23 and 28.
“We were upset and put under pressure after losing in Cambodia, but now we are happily surprised to make it through with a win at home,” said Laos coach Hans-Peter Schaller after the match. “Cambodia have a lot of talented players.”
Cambodia coach Lee Tae Hoon of South Korea lamented his side’s poor performance in their away leg. “Our team found it hard to control their emotions when travelling abroad,” he said.
Laos enjoyed the majority of possession in the first half, displaying slick passing through the midfield and opting to hit the long ball on several occasions. They took the lead through forward Lamnao Singto on 19 minutes, who headed in off a cross from Kampheng Sayavutthi.
The Cambodian defence were constantly pressurised by a free flowing Laos attack but had fullback Sok Rithy to thank for thwarting numerous intrusions into their area. However, the hosts put themselves back in the driving seat on 35 minutes when Senlati Vongsouriyasack swung in a cross from the left to find the head of Kampheng.
Cambodia kept their heads up and nearly pegged one back minutes later through Khoun Laboravy, though his shot was wayward when well placed.
On the stroke of half time, the visitors grabbed a lifeline through Chhin Chhoeun, who poked home in a crowded box off a Sun Sopanha corner kick.
Laos emerged from the break with renewed determination and seized back the advantage with a Souliya Syphasay strike just a minute after the restart. Nine minutes later and the home side saw a glimpse of daylight as Lamnao netted his second.
Laos were fully committed in putting the game to bed, a struck the crossbar with an effort on 68 minutes. But with quarter-of-an-hour left, the visitors dragged themselves back into the tie once again.
Home leg hero Kouch Sokumpheak was put through by Laboravy, and the Phnom Penh Crown striker provided a cool finish to send the game to extra time after a nerve-racking final few moments of regulation time.
With a booming home crowd at the New Laos National Stadium far outnumbering the Kingdom’s modest away support of around 50, Laos took just four minutes into the extended session to settle their nerves with a goal by Visay Phaphouvanin. Cambodia’s coffin was finally hammered shut when midfielder Kanlaya Sysomvang scored with eight minutes remaining.
With Cambodia still yet to clear the first hurdle along the road to the World Cup finals, attention now shifts to the next major event in the Cambodian national team’s calendar – the SEA Games in Indonesia this November. “I will try to build the best team for the next tournament,” said Lee Tae Hoon, adding that he wished Laos well for their encounter with China.
In yesterday’s other World Cup qualifiers, the Philippines crushed Sri Lanka 4-0 in Manila to advance after a 1-1 draw in the first leg, Myanmar overturned a one goal deficit with a 2-0 victory over Mongolia in Yangon, Vietnam made light work of their opponents Macau with a resounding 7-1 away win to add to their 6-0 result at home, and Malaysia squeezed past Taiwan on the away goals rule after a 3-2 loss in Taipei followed their 2-1 win in Bukit Jalil.
On Saturday, Nepal stunned Timor-Leste on their home turf with a 5-0 rout to ease through to the second round with a 7-1 aggregate. ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY UNG CHAMROEUN IN VIENTIANE