Saturday, October 25, 2008
Cambodia's heroes turned out to be Sam El Nasa and Khim Borey with the goals that sank their plucky opponents though they had to wait until fifteen minutes from time to edge their noses in front. With a 2pm kick-off, the first-half was a turgid affair with both teams looking as though their efforts in the earlier games had dulled any spark of passion. With two minutes to go until the interval, Brunei made the home country pay for slack defensive play with the opening goal by Bujang. In injury time at the end of the half, Cambodia levelled when Chan Rithy's shot was parried and Sam El Nasa drilled home the rebound for his 4th goal of the tournament. The 2nd half was pretty much one-way traffic with Cambodia searching for the winning goal that would clinch one of the two places up for grabs in the Championship finals in December. That goal finally came with a little over 15 minutes on the clock to go when Rithy set up Khim Borey and the striker thundered his shot over the Brunei keeper to ignite wild celebrations amongst the 15,000 crowd. Those celebrations erupted at the final whistle as the Cambodian players raced to the touchline to toss their shirts to the jubilant crowd and to acknowledge their success in pipping Philippines on more goals scored after the teams finished level on points and goal difference. For the record, the Cambodia line-up was Oukmic, Chanbunrith, Raksmey, Borey, Saknida, Sochivorn, Rithy, Narith, Sovannarith, Nasa, Chansothea. subs: Seiha, Tiny, Virath, Sophearith, Sokumpheak. In the final game of the qualifiers, Laos were leading against Timor-Leste when I left in the second half and eventually won 2-1 to clinch the top spot in the qualifying competition. For the biennial tournament finals starting on 5 December, Cambodia will open up the series with a game against Singapore in Jakarta in Group A and will also meet Myanmar and co-hosts Indonesia, whilst Laos join Bangkok-based Group B with Malaysia, Vietnam and co-hosts Thailand.
Scenes of jubilation at the final whistle as Cambodia celebrate their qualification. Note the increased attendance from the photo above.