Although the under-23 national football team fell 8-1 to Malaysia at the Southeast Asian Games in Ho Chi Minh City on Saturday, young fans in Phnom Penh said Sunday that they were encouraged by the team’s showing.
At the beginning of the match, the Cambodian team managed the ball very well, said Chhay Sina, a student at the National Institute of Management.
Another student, Heang Virak, agreed. “The technique of controlling the football has developed compared to previous performances,” he said.
Malaysia’s Yosri Raju put the team ahead in the 16th minute with a 20-meter shot. At the 20th minute, Cambodia almost got an equalizer when Hok Sottiya’s close-range shot hit the bar.
Indra Mahayuddin helped Malaysia take a 2-0 lead just before halftime, taking possession of the ball at midfield and moving past five Cambodian players before kicking the ball low past goalie Ouk Mic.
Malaysian striker Akmal Ahmad Rahkli dominated, scoring three times, while Rajan Koran scored twice and Muhamad Juzaili Samion added another goal at the 63rd minute mark.
Cambodia’s Ung Kanyanith scored a consolation goal from a close-range shot with three minutes until time.
“It is our Cambodian team’s capacity [that the score was so lopsided], although we managed to score once,” Chhay Sina said.
But Chen San, a student at Build Bright University, said he believed the Cambodian team would have scored more than once if “the players paid more attention to controlling the ball and ran more quickly.”
Chen San was also disappointed to hear that the team traveled to the competition by bus.
“Cambodian sportsmen should travel by air,” he said.
The match was the opener for the Southeast Asian Games, which formally runs from Thursday to Dec 13 and are being hosted for the first time by Vietnam.
Cambodia is scheduled to play Burma today and Singapore on Wednesday. (Additional reporting by The Associated Press)