It was another sold out event at the Olympic Stadium with fans turning out for the midweek FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 & Asian Cup 2023 fixture in their droves to see Cambodia fall to a 1-0 loss to Bahrain in their second Group C game.
An exciting first half was devoid of goals despite the attacking threat posed by Keo Sokpheng and young Sieng Chanthea, the latter handed a start by Cambodia’s coaching team after a fine virtuoso performance against Hong Kong last week.
The visitors were well-marshalled at the back with Bahrain coach Helio Sousa bellowing instructions from the sidelines at every opportunity. While Sokpheng found some space on the left wing, Chanthea and Sos Suhana struggled to make inroads against Bahrain’s central defensive pairing
In a busy second period, Bahrain began to impose an attacking threat and their efforts were rewarded in the 77th minute of the match as Kamil Al Aswad converted in the box. The corner swung into the box was not cleared by Keo Soksela in the Cambodian goal and the ball teed up for Al Aswad to bury the ball into the back of the net for the winning goal.
Cambodia piled forward looking for an equaliser as the Bahrain attack looked to take advantage and peppered Soksela’s goal with long range efforts. However, the Angkor Warriors failed to find an equaliser as Bahrain ran out winners in the night.
General manager Keisuke Honda, and head coach Felix G. Dalmas are leading the national team for their qualification campaign. Honda recently ended his spell as a player of Melbourne Victory in the Australian A-League.
The duo will be eager for an improvement over their 2018 World Cup qualifying bid where they slumped to eight defeats in eight games, conceding 27 goals in the process. Led by Tae-hoon, they scored just once through Sos Suhana in a 2-1 loss to Singapore. With 0 points, they finished rock bottom of Group E below Afghanistan.
In this year’s competition, the eight group winners and four best runners-up will advance to the AFC Asian Cup China 2023 Finals and the final round of qualifying for the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar.
However, should Qatar – who have already qualified as hosts – win their group, the seven other group winners and five best second-placed sides will advance to the final round of qualifying for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
The same applies should Qatar finish as one of the four best second-placed teams, with the fifth best group runners-up advancing to the third round of the Asian Qualifiers.
The next best 24 teams from the second round of the Asian Qualifiers will compete in a separate competition for the remaining 12 slots in the 24-team AFC Asian Cup China 2023.
Cambodia’s next group stage matches see them face a double-header away in the middle east to Iran and Iraq.