| PHNOM PENH (August 20, 2007) – Thailand had to use everything they had before they were able to overcome a gritty Cambodia side 3-2 in the second match in Group A of the Asean Football Federation (AFF) Under-17 Championship here at the National Olympic Stadium this morning.
In the re-scheduled match which had to be postponed due to the heavy rain yesterday evening, Cambodia had to be given due credit for their sterling performance against a side which is considered as the favourites to win the title.
But in the end, there was no stopping Thailand when they take a 2-1 lead at the break before adding further goals in the second-half for the much deserved victory.
“Whatever is being said about the loss today, we have to face the reality that Thailand is one of the stronger teams in the region,” said Cambodia head coach Prak Sovannara at the post match press conference.
“But the players did well to come back from being a goal down and we should be satisfied with the performance of the players who had a superb game.”
In front of more than 12,000 spectators, Cambodia took the match gamely with Keo Sokngon having a double try which was cleared on the line.
But against what was a tireless Cambodian pressure, Thailand took the chance to go in front in the 13th minute when Rakpong Chumueang headed in a rebound shot from Sarach Yooyen which came off the crossbar.
Shaken by the goal, Cambodia threw everything they had into the attack and in the 30th minute, they got the equaliser when Keo Sokngon blasted in after picking up a pass from Ek Vannak.
Thoughts of going into the break on level terms fell through for Cambodia when Sarach drove in from some 20metres out for a 2-1 advantage.
The second half saw Thailand taking the early initiative where in spite of the sweltering heat in the high 30s, the game was balanced at the centre of the pitch.
In the 70th minute, Thailand took a two-goal advantage when Nattachai Tosungnean slammed home before Cambodia found the space for Hou Sambo to score a minute later.
As the toll of the game began to show, Cambodia made several changes but Thailand was resolute in their defence to make sure of their first three points of the tournament.
“I consider it lucky that we won the match against Cambodia,” added Thailand head coach Prayoung Khunan.
“There were some positive things and there were some negatives. We will just have to improve for our next game.”
GROUP A STANDING
1. INDONESIA 3pts (+3); 2. THAILAND 3pts (+1); 3. CAMBODIA 0pt (-1); 4. BRUNEI 0pt (-3); 5. MALAYSIA 0pt.
PIC: Cambodia (in red) against Thailand (in blue)