| VIENTIANE (22 Oct 2010) – Hosts Laos and Cambodia, the two teams favoured to advance to the AFF Suzuki Cup 2010 Final rounds, had to share points after failing to score any goals at the National Sports Complex Stadium in their opening qualifying match tonight. With one point each now, the two teams trail leaders Philippines, who routed Timor Leste 5-0 in an earlier game, in the team standings.
Laos and Cambodia, winners and runners-up in the previous qualifying tournament two years ago, are under pressure to deliver the points from their remaining matches if they hope to move to the final stage of the region’s most prestigious competition. Anything short of their best will see either one of them miss the boat. Cambodia will face Timor Leste while Laos will have to contend with high-riding Philippines on Sunday.
“I would have been happy if the score were drawn only at the second half. We were much better than they were after the break and we deserved to at least score on goal,” said David Booth, the chief coach of Laos.
Surprisingly, it was Cambodia which took the fight to the hosts. Stunned by the early aggression, the Laos players fell back and absorbed the pressure from the eager Cambodian strikers. To their credit, the laos defence did well to hold their ground and keep their goal intact.
As the game progressed, the Laos players began to push forward and began creating some chances for themselves. In the 27th minute, the crowd were on their feet as skipper Kitsada targeted his shot towards the near post.
It was despair again three minutes later, this time when Kaysone Soukhavong’s freekick scrap the top of the crossbar.
Cambodia’s best chance was five minutes from the break but Khoun Laboravy’s close range strike was blocked by keeper Sengphachan Bounthisanh.
The second half was somewhat chaotic with action swinging from end to end as both sides desperately pushed for the opening goal. Despite giving it their best, neither side managed to break the duck and ended up having to share points.
Laos’ only consolation is that they improved on their result against Cambodia two years ago. In that opening qualifying game in Phnom Penh, Cambodia won 3-2.
“We defended well and I’m happy that we at least took one point from the hosts. Now, it has made us even more confident for the second match,” said Lee Tae Hoon, the chief coach of Cambodia.
Laos: Sengphachan Bounthisanh (GK), Kitsada (c), Ketsada Souksavanh, Khamla Pinkeo, Phatthana Syvilay (Konekham 80th), Lamnao Singtao (Visay, 80th), Kanlaya Sysomvang, Keoviengphet Lithideth, Kaysone Soukhavong, Kovanh Namthavixay, Khampeng Sayavutthi (Soukhaphone, 52nd)
Cambodia: Ouk Mic (GK, c), Lay Raksmey, Tieng Tiny, Khim Borey, San Narith, Kouch Sokumpheak, Keo Sokngon (Nuth Sinoun, 84th), Khoun Laboravy (Phourng Soksana, 89th), Rang Borin, Chhun Sothearath (Tum Saray, 77th), Sun Sophana
Referee: Mohd Nafeez Abdul Wahab (Mas)
Timor Leste 0 Philippines 5
Laos 0 Cambodia 0
Oct 24: Cambodia vs Timor Leste (1600hrs) / Philippines vs Laos (1830hrs)
Oct 26: Philippines vs Cambodia (1600hrs) / Laos vs Timor Leste (1830hrs)