Keo Sokngorn and Tieng Tiny lead the rest of the Cambodian players out of the Village
I'm just back to Vientiane after watching the opening two games of the football competition, that kicked off the 2009 SEA Games
today. I got a lift to the SEA Games Village to cadge a bus ride with the Cambodian team, who had the unique opportunity to watch all four of their opponents in Group A before they have to face them. We left the Village at 2.30pm for the 3pm kick-off but heavy traffic and appalling organization meant we missed the first ten minutes of the opening game, Malaysia against Timor Leste. One official even told the team that they couldn't enter the stadium, even though each player has a pass that allows them access to every competition venue. Again, the problem of inept officialdom raised its ugly head. By the time we got through the gate, Malaysia were 2-nil ahead. They went onto win 11-0 in a very one-sided game with Ahmad Fakri Saarani getting a hat-trick and the rest of the team chipping in with the others. Timor were completely disorganized but not surprising, as some of their players only arrived in Laos this morning.
By the end of the first game, most of the new national stadium was awash in a sea of red shirts. The expat Vietnamese population in Laos had turned out in force, over 40,000 of them, and they were making themselves heard even above the ridiculously loud public address. The two red-hot favourites were squaring up to each other in Group A, Thailand against Vietnam, and at times, some of the tackles resembled a street fight. It was no holds barred and an inept referee didn't help matters either. The game see-sawed with Thailand on top and then Vietnam coming back into it before the Thais took the lead on 72 minutes when Kirati Keawsombut fired in a loose ball. With just two minutes to go, the Indian referee spotted a push in the box and awarded Vietnam a penalty. Their celebrations would've graced a World Cup win, even before the kick was taken. Substitute Hoang Dinh Tung kept his head to score and send the whole ground into raptures. 1-1 it ended, honours were shared, and most of the players battered and bruised. I think it was a fair result. There was much less hassle leaving the stadium than getting into it and I got a lift back to town from my good friend Phalla, who had driven out to pick me up from the Village. The Cambodian team got to see what they are up against in their four group matches, they will train tonmorrow afternoon and then they open their account against Thailand on Friday, just around the corner from my guesthouse. How's that for service.
My article, The long road to Vientiane, appeared in today's Phnom Penh Post here
The players on their way to the opening SEA Games games The Cambodian players watch the opening matches in the national stadium The players trying to ignore the camera Mixing with some Malaysian supporters in yellow The guys turn their back on me The national stadium, bathed in sunlight, for the Malaysia v Timor Leste match Here's the proof, if you didn't believe my match report The Vietnam and Thailand teams warm-up Some of the 40,000 crowd, most of which were of Vietnamese origin Thailand in blue, Vietnam in white, take to the field The pitch is bathed in the excellent floodlighting at the national stadium
Labels: Cambodian U23s, SEA Games