World Cup Deja Vu as Cambodia Beaten by Afghanistan

Cambodia’s World Cup woes continued Thursday as the national team was comfortably beaten 3-0 by Afghanistan, bringing its qualifying campaign to six losses in six games.

Despite a positive start in Tehran’s Takhti Stadium, with Prak Mony Odom’s pace threatening the Afghan defense and Cambodia’s back four preventing any clear chances, the game soon reverted back to a familiar narrative as its opponents dominated on every part of the pitch.

The team’s defensive organization began to dissipate toward the end of the first half, when they repeatedly failed to clear their lines and allowed the Afghans to attack.

Hopes of going in even at half-time were slashed in the 42nd minute as Mustafa Zazai inflicted more pain on Cambodia on top of his late winner in Phnom Penh in June, finding the back of the net after Nen Sothearoth gave Zubayr Amiri too much room to enter the penalty box from the left wing.

Cambodia created very few chances in the second half as Afghanistan took control of the midfield, stroking the ball around with ease. One opportunity to test the Afghan defense was wasted by Tit Dina when he attempted a long-range punt, ignoring options to pass to teammates on both wings.

Any possibility of a late comeback was put to bed in the 78th minute as more lax defending—this time from Nub Tola—allowed Noroallah Amiri too much space to smash the ball into the roof of the net. Khaibar Amani added insult to injury in the 94th minute with a tidy finish after latching onto a through ball that split the Cambodian defense.

There would have been concern in the Cambodian camp for the well-being of goalkeeper Um Sereyroth last night, who was rushed into an ambulance after being carried off in a stretcher with 10 minutes to go for reasons that were not immediately clear.

The national team’s focus now turns to Tuesday, when Phnom Penh’s Olympic Stadium will play host to some of the biggest names in Asian football as Japan seeks to improve on the 3-0 defeat they inflicted on Cambodia in September.

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