During a press conference after their famous victory against Chinese Taipei (Taiwan) on Tuesday evening, Cambodia national football team head coach Lee Tae-hoon announced he was looking forward to the challenge posed by the third round of qualifiers.
Cambodia defeated a toothless Taiwanese side 2-0 in their 2019 AFC Asian Cup qualification playoff second leg with a 4-2 aggregate score and must now wait for the start of the third round of qualifiers in March next year. 24 teams are set to compete for 12 remaining places at the prestigious 2019 AFC Asian Cup.
Boeung Ket defender Hong Pheng – a perennial danger from the set piece – blasted a header into the back of the net early on for the Angkor Warriors, before substitute Prak Mony Udom scored from the spot in the second half to ensure a remarkable win for Tae-hoon’s men in front of a raucous 60,000 in Phnom Penh’s National Olympic Stadium.
“We got a very important win today. My players need experience to play a high level team, so now we get the opportunity thanks to the win,” said Cambodia’s Korean coach Tae-hoon, who turned 45 on Tuesday.
“Thanks go to my players who gave a good performance today. This game was very different to the game in Taipei because of the humidity perhaps. I predicted before the game that they would attack us, as they needed the away goal,” he said.
“Our players still lack some basic skills. The reading of the game is something that needs to be worked on,” added Tae-hoon.
“The tempo of the domestic league is very different and it’s something I worry about. They will now go away to their clubs for slow-paced domestic league games and I can just hope the players can maintain their momentum for international games.”
Chinese Taipei’s Japanese coach Imai meanwhile was despondent at having given away an early goal. “We are disappointed with the loss of course, but that’s football. We gave away an early goal and it was always going to be difficult from there,” said Imai, who also said he was very impressed with Chan Vathanaka, who was named man of the match.
“I am very impressed with (Keo) Sokpheng and Vathanaka, who were tricky forward players that we struggled to contain.
“Our attack was bad today with little ability to finish.”
Post-match fears were raised by concerned fans after video footage emerged of fans fighting amongst themselves. A group of male spectators clashed with plastic bottles, although one of the youngsters seem to be brandishing a weapon.
One commenter on the video, which has been uploaded to Facebook, admonished those involved.
“We all know that our national stadium title is crowded and therefore we must sit very close together. There is barely space to walk up and down,” it said. “But if you fight there and there is a stampede, who will be responsible?”
Chan Vathanaka beats a Chinese Taipei defender.
Prak Mony Udom beats the keeper to give Cambodia a two goal lead in Tuesday’s match.
A capacity crowd of more than 60,000 saw Cambodia defeat Chinese Taipei 2-0 on Tuesday evening at the Olympic Stadium.