Cambodia fell to a late winner as opponents Laos secured a vital 2-1 win in their 6th Hassanal Bolkiah Trophy youth championship group game at HB National Stadium in Brunei on Saturday evening.
Laos, who were crushed 5-1 by tournament favourites Singapore in their first game, had to collect a win and it was forward Phithack Kongmathilath who collected the plaudits as his brace captured all three points.
Cambodia had put their noses in front first through Sos Suhana in the 14th minute before Laos broke through the Cambodian backline in the second half – the long-range equalizer coming from the boot of Kongmathilath.
With Cambodia on the backfoot, Laos sealed victory in stoppage time as a Kongmathilath free kick handed the Laotians a 2-1 win.
The pressure will now be on Cambodia, who must grab a victory over the group leaders Singapore tonight if they are to advance.
The tournament boasts six teams from around the region joining Cambodia in the push for the top prize.
Teams are restricted to using only players aged Under-22. Cambodia have been drawn in Group B alongside Laos and Singapore. Hosts Brunei, Thailand, Myanmar and Timor Leste make up Group A.
The championships aim to promote friendship among the participating teams. The tournament was first held in 2002 and this year’s edition will mark its sixth edition. In their 2012 and 2014 appearances, the young Angkor Warriors did not get beyond the group stage.
The winning team will earn $15,200, with $7,600 going to the runners-up. $3,800 has been allocated for joint third-placed teams.
In other youth football news, Cambodia’s Under-16 girls squad departed the kingdom yesterday for the AFF U-16 Girls’ Championship. The tournament, which will span 1st-13th May, will this year be hosted in Palembang, Indonesia.
Cambodia are drawn in group B alongside, Thailand, Laos, and hosts Indonesia. They play their first match, against Laos, on May 2.