On a day when it was too slippery to do much with hands and feet, Cambodia goalie Suon Dara used his fists.
Tested time and again by Indonesia’s attackers, Suon Dara punched the shots away with fists close together. For 78 minutes he kept the match scoreless.
But Eko Purdjianto’s blast just inside the right post started Indonesia on its way to a 2-0 win in a World Cup football qualifier played before more than 10,000 fans Sunday at Old Stadium.
The first significant rain to fall in Phnom Penh in six weeks turned the field squishy and negated any speed advantage held by the favored visitors.
Indonesia still dominated the match, with a half-dozen solid chances off free kicks awarded after Cambodia fouls near its own goal. But Suon Dara was spectacular, aided by solid defensive work by Chea Sameth and Soeur Chanveasna.
“There was a lot of action in the beginning. It was crowded in front of the goal,” Suon Dara said. “I was afraid of the ball slipping out of my hands, so I used the fists.”
“He was our most oustanding player,” said Cambodia coach Joachim Fickert. “Sometimes his nerves get to him early in a match, but he’s shown he can be one of the best goalkeepers in Southeast Asia.”
The focus was on Suon Dara because his teammates failed to mount a serious scoring threat the entire match. Cambodia played without veteran striker Hok Sochetra, who came out of retirement to play in the 1-1 draw with Maldives two weeks ago and then decided not to play any more.
Indonesia’s best opportunity in the scoreless first half came when Uston Nawawi’s free kick from 20 meters was double-fisted into the crossbar by Suon Dara.
Two corner kicks by Nawawi in the second half led to both goals. First he found Purdjianto 20 meters in front of the net, and the Indonesian rifled his shot just inside the goal post. At the 87th minute, a second corner by Nawawi was headed into the net by Bambang Pamungkas from about 7 meters out.
Cambodia is now 0-3-1 in the World Cup qualifying, and plays its final home match next Sunday against China. The Chinese, heavy favorites to advance out of the four-team qualifying group, surprisingly struggled to defeat Maldives 1-0 on Saturday.