Defending champions Thailand and 2008 winners Vietnam topped their groups with all-win records ahead of Indonesia and Myanmar, respectively, to complete the semifinal line-up in the prestigious AFF Suzuki Cup, which moves to the knockout phase on a home and away basis from December 14.
In a dramatic end to the group stage, Indonesia snatched a thrilling 2-1 win over Singapore to clinch second spot from Group A behind Thailand, who ended the co-hosts’ hopes blow by edging the Philippines 1-0.
In Group B, Myanmar punched above their weight to edge Malaysia 1-0 to claim a last-four booking, as an error-strewn performance saw Cambodia lose 2-1 to Vietnam in their final game.
In the double-leg semifinals, Thailand will take on Myanmar, while Vietnam will face Indonesia.
Cambodia had a chance to rock Vietnam, especially after the group leaders were reduced to 10 men early in the game at the Wunna Theikdi Stadium in Naypyidaw.
Defender Troung Dinh’s overzealous tackle on Chan Vathanaka landed him in hot water, but instead of capitalising on this gift Cambodia sat back, allowing the free-moving Le Cong Dinh to break the deadlock on 20 minutes.
Vietnam took that lead into the break, and within 10 minutes of the restart the game took another weird turn for Cambodia, with Nub Tola inexplicably lobbing the ball over his own goalkeeper and into the net.
Though Cheng Polroth smashed home a long-range effort in the 65th minute, it was obvious the fight had gone out of Cambodia.
Htan the hero
Myanmar needed only a draw in their match against Malaysia, and David Htan gave them just that with an 89th-minute goal as the country was able to celebrate only its second semifinal appearance.
Singapore took a 27th-minute lead through Khairul Amri, who had two good chances to add to the lead in the second session. He failed to convert either and with them went his side’s chances as Indonesia staged a superb rally.
Andik Vermansyah and Stephano Liliplay each scored to steer Indonesia clear.