Cambodia stamped their ticket for the next round of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 & AFC Asian Cup 2023 Joint Qualifiers after defeating Pakistan 2-1 in the second leg on Tuesday evening, to advance 4-1 on aggregate.
Having secured the first leg 2-0 last Thursday, Cambodia started with the advantage in Doha, Qatar, but Pakistan saw a flicker of hope when Ouk Sovann handled the ball inside the box early in the tie.
Adnan Bashir duly slotted past goalkeeper Keo Soksela in the 18th minute.
Pakistan had another opportunity just before half-time but Ali Uzair’s effort was stopped by Soksela.
But Cambodia rallied and were rewarded with the equaliser in the 64th minute with Sath Rasib taking advantage of poor defending.
A second came through substitute Reung Bunheing, who netted off a Sieng Chanthea pass in the 89th minute.
Angkor Warriors head coach Felix G. Dalmas said he was more concerned about the continued development of his team rather than immediate results. Dalmas said they will be practical in their approach.
“Our goal is to take one step at a time. I am more interested in the growing process. We want to keep going and we want to keep growing,” the 31-year-old Argentinian told reporters in the post-match presser.
As Cambodia await their next opponents, Dalmas can bask in the knowledge that his team can handle pressure, as they showed against Pakistan.
“They put us under pressure. We knew they would come hard at us but we were able to keep playing our game.
“They were very good opponents. They have some good players. But we tried to cancel their chances by keeping possession. We respect them very much and I am glad we won the match.”
Pakistan coach Jose Antonio Nogueira was once again left ruing missed opportunities.
“We dominated the first half in which we got many chances,” Brazilian Nogueira said. “We went up 1-0 and could have scored a few more but that wasn’t to be. Also, the Cambodia goalkeeper (Keo Soksela) made some good saves.”
“In the second half, we made a mistake and conceded the equaliser. Nobody attacked them. They were free, free, free (inside the box),” said Nogueira.
However, he didn’t take away anything from the Cambodians.
“They were very good. But it’s also a fact that they had more time to train together. They got to play more friendly matches. We started only in May.”