A bold approach from Thailand saw the defending champions stun Cambodia 6-0 in their AFF U16 Youth Football Championship Pool B clash at the Olympic Stadium on Sunday evening, putting the host side under pressure to get a positive result in today’s tie against Timor Leste to safeguard their passage to the semifinals.
As disappointing as the defeat was at the hands of Thailand, it was Laos’s impressive 4-0 win over Brunei that has now caused alarm in the Cambodian camp. After Sunday’s loss, Cambodia are in second place behind Thailand at six points, two ahead of Laos who play Thailand in the final pool fixture.
This scenario makes it imperative for Cambodia to win their game against Timor Leste to make their semifinal place absolutely safe even in the unlikely event of Laos upsetting Thailand.
“I expected to win by 2-0, or just 2-1. But six goals were very flattering,” Thai coach Chaiyong Khumpiam said.
The turning point for Cambodia was a freak incident that resulted in regular goalkeeper Kong Raphat being forced to leave the pitch just before the break after an awkward fall.
Svang Samnang came in as a substitute keeper and almost instantly came under sustained pressure beginning with a penalty conversion early in the second half by Sumana Salapphet.
From then on, Thailand were in total control as they kept extending the margin.
“The loss of our regular keeper changed the game for us. It was unfortunate,” Cambodia coach Inoue Kazunori said.
While Thailand have booked their place in the last four, leaving Cambodia and Laos to fight it out for Group B’s second slot, Vietnam and Australia have already made it to the next phase from Group A.