Syria Scores Six Against Cambodia in World Cup Qualifier

Cambodia’s goalless World Cup qualifying campaign continued Tuesday night as they were trounced 6-0 by a superior Syrian side at Phnom Penh’s Olympic Stadium.

Buoyed after Thursday’s respectable 3-0 loss against Japan, which boasts some of Asia’s biggest names, the Cambodians took a far more offensive approach against Syria and looked threatening in the first few minutes.

Syrian striker Mahmoud Al Mawas tussles with Cambodian goalkeeper Sou Yaty and midfielder Sun Sovanrithy at Phnom Penh's Olympic Stadium on Tuesday night. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)
Syrian striker Mahmoud Al Mawas tussles with Cambodian goalkeeper Sou Yaty and midfielder Sun Sovanrithy at Phnom Penh’s Olympic Stadium on Tuesday night. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

However, Coach Lee Tae-hoon’s attempt to compete with their opponents—as opposed to the all-out defensive approach taken last week—ultimately backfired as the visitors soon began finding room in front of the goal.

Omar Kharbin was celebrating what he thought was the game’s opener after 8 minutes, before he realized he had been flagged offside. The packed Olympic Stadium then erupted in the 13th minute as Sou Yaty saved a penalty from Sanharib Malki after Tit Dina handled the ball inside the box.

Cambodia’s two early lifelines faded around the half hour mark as the Syrian side began to fully assert itself, stroking the ball with ease and fluidity in the final third.

Kharbin got on the score sheet soon after when he flicked a header over Yaty into the net at 29 minutes. Two minutes later, Malki made up for his penalty miss, exploiting some poor defending by side-footing the ball into the net as it broke loose in the box.

The game was put beyond doubt in the 39th minute as Kharbin latched onto a driven cross to make it 3-0. As the heavens opened just before the break, Mahmoud Al Mawas slotted the ball away nicely to put Syria up by four goals.

Khoun Laboravy missed one of Cambodia’s best chances to score during the qualifiers when he put the ball over the bar from close range shortly after halftime.

Despite the home side squandering several chances, Syria was in exhibition mode for the majority of the second half, rarely giving up possession. A goal from Omar Midani and a deflected Osama Omari shot rounded off the victory.

Speaking after the game at Olympic Stadium, Hun Samros, an 18-year-old fan, said he was unsurprised by the scoreline and predicted it would have been worse had it not been for Syria’s crippling civil war.

“I did not feel disappointed because I knew that we would not win this game,” Mr. Samros said.

“Syria is in a war crisis. If they were not at war, they could have scored nine or 10 goals.”

Cambodia has lost all four of its qualifiers, letting in 14 goals and failing to find the net. Their next match is away in Singapore on October 13.

Syria currently tops the group after beating Afghanistan 6-0 and Singapore 1-0.

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