In what was without doubt the best performance of Cambodia to date at the SEA Games the hosts were narrowly beaten 2-1 by footballing giants Indonesia.
To read about Myanmar vs Cambodia click here
First half Cambodia 1 Indonesia 1
After the drama of the last few days you’d have forgiven the players and indeed the nation to have simply thrown in the towel on this match, but in the end it was quite the opposite. The stadium was full, people around the country were glues to TV screens and finally the Khmer’s had some passion to them.
The game itself though did not start all that well, with Indonesia not only starting as the stronger team, but also striking the first blow. This came in the 9th minute when an all too standard goal mouth scramble was not dealt with only for the aptly named Titan to power the ball into the far corner.
After this the thought was that it might well be a white wash, but to the contrary Cambodia fought back and there were chances for both teams.
Just before half-time Cambodia were granted corner which was swung in the outside of the box only to be powered home from a terrific header from Sovannmakara of Visakha to level the tie going into the break.
Second half Cambodia 1 Indonesia 2
Following their late equalizer Cambodia came out with a new air of confidence and straight away went looking for a second goal. Alas it was Indonesia who were to take the lead again in the 52nd minute when another aptly named player, “Beckham” did a trademark Beckham and sunk a beautiful goal from outside the box that left the Cambodia defense stunned.
Again the Cambodians could have easily given up at this point, but instead went on the attack, probably playing their best 30 minute spell in the tournament. Their tenacity was rewarded in the final ten minutes when the hosts were awarded a penalty. Lim Pisoth of champions Phnom Penh Crown stepped up only to see his shot saved by the keeper, the Cambodians rushed in for the rebound, which Pisoth again went for only for the Indonesian keeper to retain the ball.
Both sets of players then rushed the box, which nearly led to an all out brawl as both sides squared off against each other. Yet while this was not the prettier side of football, it did at least show the passion of the home team.
For the rest of the match Cambodia continued with attack upon attack as the home fans continued to cheer them on despite the fact they were all, but out. Finally the whistle blew and the tournament was over for Cambodia, but the home team at least got to greet their adoring fans with heads held high.
What does it mean?
Indonesia are through as group champions and will play Vietnam in the semi-finals. Myanmar, who beat the Philippines through a last minute penalty will play the mighty Thailand in the other match.
If you’re a betting man you’d have to go for an Indonesia, Thailand final, but of course anything is possible.
As for Cambodia this marks not only the end of an era, but the start of a new one. The Honda experiment is over and while it was not a successful one at least helped publicize the local game. For this at least Cambodia can be eternally grateful.
But, it is the new era that we can be most excited about. Felix Dalmas will now become not only our full time coach, but will be paid to do so. This means that there will have to be checks and balances, rather than an NGO type mentality.
To read about Felix Dalmas click here.
The future is potentially bright.
This article is adapted from BPVE, (https://bpve.com/) reported and edited from the great team – Cambodia Sports Review. (https://www.cambodiasportsreview.com/)
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