A Keisuke Honda-backed Cambodia side conceded four goals in a disastrous second half to fall to a 4-1 defeat to Myanmar in their second AFF Suzuki Cup group A match in Mandalay, Myanmar yesterday evening.
After missing out on Cambodia’s opener against Malaysia last Thursday due to playing commitments with Australian side Melbourne Victory, Cambodia’s General Manager Honda made an appearance instructing his charges from the sidelines at the Mandalarthiri Stadium. He had been the subject of much social media criticism for his absence in Cambodia’s opening day defeat.
Decked out in a fetching white-coloured away strip, Cambodia began the game without Visakha forward Keo Sokpheng with Malaysia-based Thierry Chantha Bin who slotted into a five-man midfield. Despite criticism after his game one performance, General Manager Honda and coach Dalmas kept faith in striker Reung Bunheing. In goal, Um Vichet was replaced by Keo Soksela. The hosts meanwhile, surprisingly chose to start without dangerous striker Aung Thu in their starting eleven.
Despite a few early chances, the young and inexperienced Myanmar side looked fragile in defense with Cambodia going close early on. The visitors quickly grew in confidence, and the opener inevitably came via the boot of Chan Vathanaka in the 22nd minute of the game after the Boeung Ket winger ghosted in behind the Myanmar defence to coolly slot home Sos Suhana’s pinpoint centre.
With Cambodia eager to extend their lead, they continued to threaten in attack. Myanmar meanwhile, struggled to convert their numerous chances and frustratingly for their fans went into the half-time break down by a single goal.
Myanmar went into the second period with renewed purpose with Myanmar coach Antoine John Paul Hey introducing Aung Thu to attempt to spark a comeback. And Myanmar fans did not have long to wait. As the clock struck the hour, unmarked midfielder Hlaing Bo Bo sent a crisp volley from inside the box sailing into the back of the Cambodia net. Myanmar had their equaliser.
With Myanmar gaining confidence, they soon had the chance to take the lead after Soeuy Visal brought down the opposition attacker in the box. But a smart Soksela save from Aung Thu’s penalty kept the ball out much to the chagrin of the hosts.
However, elation quickly turned to despair for Soksela as the Visakha keeper fumbled a catch only to see Aung Thu slip the ball to Aung Than Htet who made no mistake from a yard out in the 59th minute.
With time running out, Honda brought on Prak Mony Udom to try and make a difference but Myanmar went on to extend their lead further still. A Mg Mg Lwin strike was parried by Soksela only for Si Thu Aung to bury Myanmar’s third. Bo Bo then capped a superb performance with his second of the match in stoppage time.
Cambodia welcome Laos to Phnom Penh’s Olympic Stadium on the 20th for their third Group A fixture.