Cambodia’s spirited campaign in the 2014 AFF Suzuki Cup qualifying rounds came to a disappointing end following a 1-0 defeat by Myanmar on Saturday at the New Laos Stadium in Vientiane.
A sensational 3-2 win from two goals down over East Timor last Thursday had kept the Kingdom’s chances alive, but their second defeat in three games meant that today’s final fixture against Brunei is only of academic interest.
Midfielder Kyaw Ko Ko’s penalty in the 42nd minute clinched the argument in favour of Myanmar, who are assured of a place in next month’s showpiece along with Laos, who defeated Timor Leste 2-0 in Saturday’s second fixture for their third straight win.
Myanmar and Laos face off in the final game of the competition to decide the leader of the group, the winner of which will join Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand in Group B, while the runner-up will move to Group A in the company of Vietnam, Philippines and Indonesia.
The 10th edition of the Suzuki Cup is being jointly hosted by Vietnam and defending champions Singapore from November 22 to December 20 at two venues in Hanoi and two in Kallang.
Myanmar were rather slow into their stride even as Cambodia snatched the early initiative with Rous Samoeun, Khun Laboravy and Ngoy Srin having a crack at the goal.
The tide turned Myanmar’s way just before half time when Cambodian defender Sok Sovan was penalised for handling the ball. Kyaw calmly went down the centre with his spot kick as goalkeeper Sou Yaty dived to his left.
Though Cambodia kept plugging away for an equaliser, Myanmar were asserting more control in the second session and it took a great effort by Sou Yaty to deprive substitute Tin Win Aung of a score deep into injury time after having stoutly defended attempts by Win Min Htut and Kyaw.
Coach Raddy Avramovic, who won the Suzuki Cup three times with Singapore (in 2004, 2007 and 2012) before taking up the Myanmar job, said after the match that he was relieved that the missed chances by his players did not come back to haunt the team.
“I was expecting the game to be tough because this Cambodian side had been playing a different style. In the end we were lucky to do what we needed to get this result,” said the coach.
In the face of another fruitless campaign during his term at the helm of Cambodian football, coach Lee Tae-hoon tempered his frustration with a praise for the side’s valiant effort.
“We went all out to win against a team that has never missed a qualification beat and has more depth and experience. We will continue to take steps for improvement,” said the South Korean in his post match comments.
Cambodia’s only qualification success was in 2008 during Prak Sovannara’s reign as the national head coach.