Singapore came from behind to beat Cambodia 2-1 in the second game on Wednesday night to add to the woes of Cambodia in the football event of the on going SEA games.
The Cambodians, who were spanked 6-0 by Indonesia in their first game, took the lead in the 35th minute through a freak looking goal to put themselves int he driving seat after being pegged to their half for much of the first 20 minutes.
Coach Lee Hoon Tae opted for a 4-5-1 formation hoping to stifle the Young Lions Attack from the middle leaving striker Khoun Laboravy all alone up front. This tactics seems to have back fired as Singapore dominated possession from the onset pilling pressure on the Cambodian defense. Thanks to Goalkeeper Sou Yaty who on numerous occasion came to the rescue to keep the tie scoreless until Chhin chouen struck.
A long ball bell to Chhin chouen on the right with a Singapore defender closing him down right at the edge of the corner flag, the Cambodian winger took innocent-looking cross which looped high and sneaked down into goal, leaving Singapore goalkeeper Izwan Mahbud stunned and left their defense all caught napping. The Celebration from the Cambodian bench told the story of how unexpected the goal was.
That was Cambodia's first shot on target despite Singapore's dominance which left the the Young Lions with 15 shots on target compared to Cambodia’s two, and they had 78% of possession throughout the duration of the match.
Singapore's lack of finishing was telling and were almost made to pay for their poor marksmanship. In a first half where Gabriel Quak was the brightest spark for Singapore, the boys created four good chances but could not finish.
Time after time, Singapore pilled pressure on the Cambodian defense who were on the back foot despite their shock lead in what looks like A routine practice of Defense against attack. So often Goalkeeper Sou Yaty proved why he is the best in goal in the kingdom by pulling off spectacular saves to the admiration of the paltry crowd at the GBK Stadium Jakarta.
Then came Cambodia’s shock goal which left the Young Lions visibly stunned. By the time Hafiz Abu Sujad blew a 43rd minute free kick into the night sky, Singapore head coach Slobodan Pavkovic was heard yelling “Come on! Come on! Come on!”
Cambodia took the lead into the interval and right from the restart, Singapore were back on the onslaught. Coach Pavkovic made his intent clear, pulling out defender Irwan Shah and replacing him with striker Nigel Neil Vanu. Cambodia Lee's tactics in the second half were also clear as they put 11 men behind the ball.
The Young Lions started the second half with an intensity that was missing in the first half and it paid off finally in the 56th minute when Nizam scored the equaliser. Defender Safuwan Baharudin got his head to a corner and directed it back across goal to a waiting Nizam who did not miss with his header.
Nizam celebrated wildly and was mobbed by his teammates while there was relief on the Singapore bench.
Then Singapore missed a quick opportunity to go ahead in the 59th minute with Yasir Yanapi missed from 1m out after the Cambodian goalkeeper Sou Yaty had completely misjudged another incoming corner.
However, Singapore’s intensity soon dropped after the equalizer and Cambodia came out stringing some passes together winning a series of throw-ins and in one of their attacks, Khoun Laboravy even managed to conjure up a headed half chance for Cambodia in the 66th minute.
Singapore’s superior quality finally told in the 74th minute as the Young Lions put together what could be adjudged as the best move of the game that involved four players in the build up. The ball was threaded through the centre of the field before Hanapi delivered an exquisite cross from the right that substitute Nigel Neil Vanu finished off with a firm header.
83rd min Shahdan Sulaiman then tested the Cambodian goalie from long range forcing a trade mark good save at full stretch from Sou Yaty.
Cambodia Goalkeeper Sou Yaty in full stretch to parry off a a shot during their 2-1 defeat to Singapore.
Cambodia’s night also ended in misery. Apart from the defeat, they also lost their captain K. Laboravy when he received a second yellow card in the game after he left his leg trailing in a tackle involving Safuwan.
While a win was all that mattered in the end, the Young Lions, with all of their starting lineup playing together as a team in the S.League save for Hanapi, struggled for fluidity.
Furthermore, their inability to score more than two goals against Cambodia in their “Group of Death” may come back to haunt them.
Singapore will next play Indonesia on Friday, November 11th, 3pm while Cambodia trade tackles with Thailand.
In an earlier Group A game, defending champions Malaysia beat Thailand 2-1 for their first win after a scoreless draw against Singapore on Monday.
In Group B, Myanmar thrashed Brunei 4-0 while Vietnam beat previously undefeated Timor Leste 2-0.
Cambodia U-23 Starting Lineup
Sou Yaty, Lay Raksmey, Sok Rithy, Sok Sovan, T. Pancharong, Tum Saray, K. Laboravy (C), Sos Suhana, C. Sothearath, C. Chhoeun, P. Soksana
Singapore U-23 Starting Lineup
Izwan Mahbud, Irwan Shah, (Nigel Neil Vanu), Afiq Yunos, Safuwan Baharudin, Yasir Hanapi, Gabriel Quak, (Faris Ramly), Hariss Harun (C), Hafiz Abu Sujad, Shahdan Sulaiman, Fazli Ayob, Khairul Nizam (Firdaus Kasman)