Despite losing goalkeeper Sou Yaty and defender Sun Sovanarithy to red cards in the first half, reigning league champions Boeung Ket Angkor managed to squeeze out a 1-1 draw against Lao Toyota FC in the first leg of the AFC Cup Playoff at the Olympic Stadium yesterday evening. The sides will meet again for the second leg at the National Stadium in Vientiane on February 7 with everything to play for.
Nine-man Boeung Ket made up for the shortage of manpower with some stout defending in good numbers as the visitors unaccountably failed to drive home their numerical advantage after the game had taken its dramatic turn on the half-hour mark with the dismissal of Cambodia’s top goalkeeper Yaty.
The home side got off to a breezy start with captain Khuon Laboravy’s trusty left foot finding the mark in the 17th minute after he had shaken off two of his pursuers in his dash to the box. But that lead lasted no more than six minutes as Lao Toyota found the equaliser through a powerful volley in the midst of a goalmouth scramble by midfielder Savoulasouk Vongdalasane Just as Boeung Ket were trying to consolidate came that unexpected twist at their own end with Yaty rashly charging out to confront Lao Toyota midfielder Kazuo Homma and in the bargain catching him with his right leg.
The referee took out a straight red, sending Yaty back to the dressing room.Boeung Ket sent on stand-in keeper Kim Makara as a replacement for defender Khiev Vibol, but another setback soon followed with a second yellow card being shown to Sun Sovannrithy minutes before the breather to reduce the Rubbermen to nine.
The twin blows clearly made a huge dent, but the nine men of Boeung Ket worked desperately hard, often falling back in numbers to shut out several promising Lao Toyota moves. Makara came up with a couple of timely saves to keep the tie alive.
Past the hour, last season’s prolific goalscorer Chan Vathanaka took to the pitch but given the dire circumstances he was hardly allowed to be his attacking self.
The visitors may yet ruefully look back on a couple of gilt-edged chances missed by Vongdalasene and Hemma, and several substitutions by the side late in the game could hardly conjure up anything sensational.