Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Left to rue what might've been

Cambodia's unchanged starting line-up
Cambodia have completed their AFF 2008 Suzuki Cup competition without a point to show for their efforts, losing all three games they played. Tonight's final wooden-spoon match in Group A against Myanmar was a much closer affair than the other two games, but their defensive frailty again proved to be their undoing, with Myanmar running out 3-2 winners. But it could've been so different if Cambodia had maintained their momentum after coming back from a 2-1 deficit at half-time to draw level on 77 minutes. Khim Borey fired home from the penalty spot and at least a share of the spoils looked to be on the cards, but with just five minutes to go, another defensive lapse, allowed Myanmar to net the winner. The look on the players' faces at the final whistle said it all, disappointment and dejection. The last time the teams met, Myanmar won 7-1 so the Cambodian players can feel pleased with their improvement but they will know that a draw in their final match would've at least given them something tangible from their Suzuki Cup exploits.

Cambodia's coach Prak Sovannara stuck with the same starting line-up for the third consecutive game and after Khim Borey had gone close at one end, Moe Win headed home from a corner on the half-hour to give Myanmar the lead. Five minutes later Win Thein escaped his marker to fire home a second. Borey again had a great chance to score before Kouch Sokumpheak fired in Cambodia's first goal of the tournament on 40 minutes after his first shot had been saved. It was no more than they deserved. After the break, Chan Rithy missed a glorious chance to pull level, before Sun Sovannarith was hauled down by the Myanmar keeper for a penalty on 77 minutes. Borey stepped up to net a confident equaliser. I am mystified why the referee did not send off the Myanmar goalkeeper, as well as another defender earlier in the half, who as last man hauled back Sokumpheak on the break. Games are won and lost on such decisions. In this instance, Myanmar grabbed that late winner through Min Tun, leaving Cambodia to rue their missed opportunities.
The Cambodia line-up: 1 Seiha; 2 Chanbunrith; 3 Raksmey; 4 Tiny (5 Sothearith); 7 Borey; 10 Sokumpheak; 11 Chan Rithy (6 Virath); 13 Narith (9 Sochivorn); 14 Sovannarith; 16 El Nasa; 17 Sok Rithy.
Coach Prak Sovannara on the touchline
Kouch Sokumpheak jogs back after netting Cambodia's first goal
Khim Borey preparing to take his 77th min penalty
Khim Borey runs up to take his penalty kick, from behind the goal
The final score and Cambodia in blue take their final bow


Blogger Andy Brouwer said...

A few additional comments after watching Cambodia's 3-2 defeat to Myanmar to end their Suzuki Cup competition for another year:

Coach Sovannara stuck with the same team and whilst they showed a marked improvement offensively in this game, the opposition weren't of the same standard as the two previous opponents they played. However, with a last meeting defeat of 7-1, Cambodia showed more than enough to suggest there would be no repeat of that scoreline.
They played with more confidence though still relied on a five-man defensive unit when Myanmar had the ball, and frustratingly, never closed down their opponents higher up the field, preferring to allow Myanmar lots of space to play in and too much possession.
When Cambodia did have the ball, their first touch wasn't good enough, particularly Chan Rithy (who has a sweet left foot) but his touch deserted him completely in this game. And they gave the ball away far too easily.
Borey and Sokumpheak worked hard up front and on another day could've had a couple of goals each, particularly Borey who had 3 good chances to score, before netting his penalty.

Defensively, Cambodia looked at sixes and sevens for the three goals. The tv wasn't too clear for the first goal from a corner but it looked like a defender got in the way of Seiha and an innocuous header ended up in the net, whilst the marking in the box for goal no 2 was awful. In addition, poor ariel ability was also a factor in not clearing danger from their box. For the final goal, the defence looked in complete disarray when all they needed was to be strong and clear their lines having clawed their way back into the game. Its something they must look at on the video and identify where and why they can't allow it to happen again.

The referee made 2 elementary errors in the 2nd half. Both a Myanmar defender and the goalkeeper should've been sent off for hauling down Cambodia players, as the last man. The rule is a simple one, which he flagrantly failed to apply. For this he should never referee in a finals competition again. Its not sour grapes, its a fact.

In addition to that, the Myanmar team coach was banned for this game but he appeared on the team's bench from the start in complete disregard of the ban. Again the referee was the man in charge and he failed to spot this breach of the law. There is no excuse. In my view, Cambodia have enough grounds to request a re-match. It won't happen of course, as its all done & dusted now, but if officials can't even get the basics right, then they should be replaced and not allowed to officiate again at international level. End of lecture.

December 10, 2008 12:48 AM  

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