Monday, November 9, 2009

Never-say-die Cambodia

Cambodia's Under-23 team line up before they play HAGL
It's a few hours after the end of the game and I'm still catching my breath. The Cambodian national Under-23 team pulled off a dramatic 3-2 success against one of Vietnam's best club sides HAGL at the Olympic Stadium on Sunday night and sent a warning message to the other two teams in the BIDC Cup that they mean business. It was a classic counter-punch after HAGL took a two-goal lead in the 50th minute. Scott O'Donell's team dug into their reserves of grit and character that they've developed as a team in their month-long training camp in Saigon to get back in the game on 72 minutes with a Khim Borey penalty. It was that man Nov Soseila, who'd tormented the HAGL defence all night, who was floored by the full-back as he burst into the penalty box. It was all Cambodia at this point and more chances came and went before Chan Chhaya was tripped and Borey stepped up to lash in a 2nd penalty on 72 minutes to level the game. With the tide now firmly in Cambodia's favour, they pressed for a third and 4 minutes later, the HAGL goalkeeper dropped a cross onto the foot of substitute Prak Mony Udom and the teenager took off in wheels of delight as Cambodia nosed ahead 3-2. It was bedlam in the main stand as the Cambodian supporters went beserk, including yours truly. They had more opportunities to enhance the scoreline but 3-2 it stayed, leaving the national coach to enthuse: "I was very pleased with the character of the boys tonight, they can take great credit from that performance. We conceded two soft goals from set pieces and we have still got to improve on all aspects of our play, but they gave me everything they had and its a great morale boost for them. It was great to play and win in front of our own supporters and they were great too, even when we were 2-nil down." The Cambodian U23s line-up: Sou Yaty, Pheak Rady, Sun Sovannarith (capt), Tieng Tiny, Sok Rithy, San Narith, Phuong Narong (sub Oum Kumpheak), Nov Soseila (sub Prak Mony Udom), Keo Sokngorn, Chan Chhaya (sub Khuon Laboravy), Khim Borey.
In the opening game of the BIDC four-team tournament, the Laos U23s and Vissai Ninh Binh shared the spoils in a 1-1 draw that blossomed in the first-half and died off in the 2nd. Sayavuthi Khampeng gave Laos a deserved lead in the 10th minute, with VNB equalizing through Dang Van Thanh on 26 minutes. Both teams showed enough to suggest that all 4 teams in the BIDC Cup will be a tough nut to crack in the remaining round-robin games on Tuesday and Thursday.
Cambodia's national coach Scott ODonell makes a point at his after-match press conference
The Cambodian U23s await presentation to the match VIPs
HAGL, one of the V-League's best teams, lost 3-2 on the night after leading 2-0
Welcome to the BIDC Cup 2009 at the Olympic Stadium
The Laos U23 team earned themselves a 1-1 draw in their opening game
Vissai Ninh Binh came from behind to draw 1-1 against Laos U23s

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