Before his team began the World Cup qualifying tournament, Cambodia football coach Joachim Fickert said his goal was to play “respectable matches” against China, the heavy favorite to advance from the four-team qualifying group.
Cambodia certainly played decently in its 4-0 loss to China at Old Stadium on May 6, especially on defense. But Cambodia will be hard-pressed to keep the score as close when the two teams meet again Sunday night in China’s Guangzhou province.
The only Cambodian player who showed any offensive spark in the first match was striker Chan Arunreath, and a shoulder injury he suffered in that contest will keep him out of the lineup Sunday.
China overcame an early 1-0 deficit to whip visiting Indonesia, 5-1, last Sunday, which all but guaranteed the Chinese will advance to the next World Cup round.
Indonesian star Kurniawan Yulianto scored the only goal in the first half. China answered after intermission with two goals by Xie Hui and single tallies by Yang Chen, Qi Hong and defender Li Weifeng.
China is now 4-0 while Indonesia fell to 4-1. The two teams play the final match in the qualifying tournament on May 27 in Jakarta.
Sunday’s match is the finale for Cambodia. The team will likely finish 0-5-1 with a 1-1 draw against the Maldives—the lone bright spot. Cambodia also finished 0-5-1 in the last World Cup four years ago, managing a 1-1 draw with Indonesia.