THE national football team’s chances of qualifying for the AFF (ASEAN Football Federation) Suzuki Cup 2016 took a huge blow after falling 3-0 to Cambodia last night.
The Wasps never recovered from conceding twice in the opening 10 minutes of the rain-marred encounter, thanks to goals from Prak Mony Udom and Keo Sokpheng before the former added another late in the opening half at the National Olympic Stadium in Phnom Penh.
“We conceded two goals in the first 10 minutes. We were chasing the game after that. Credits to Cambodia who came out with good support, fans support,” Mike Wong Mun Heng, Brunei’s interim national coach, was quoted as saying on the AFF website. “We tried to be competitive in all areas. We created the opportunities to score goals and at least tried to come back but we never did score from the chances that were created,” he added.
Cambodia are favourites to claim the only spot to join Malaysia, Myanmar and Vietnam in Group B of the tournament proper as they are now on six points and have a superior goal difference.
Brunei are mathematically still able to qualify but now have to beat Laos, who edged Timor Leste 2-1 in the other game yesterday, on Friday and hope that Cambodia slip up against Timor Leste by a favourable scoreline.
The Wasps made one change from their 2-1 win over Timor Leste on Saturday with Rosmin Hj Md Kamis starting in place of an injured Najib Hj Tarif in the backline.
Brunei were on target in the opening minutes of the game but Shahrazen Said’s shot heading to the bottom right corner was kept out by Cambodian goalkeeper and skipper Um Sereyroth.
Brunei custodian Wardun Yussof was called into action in the fifth minute having to keep out Tith Dina’s long range effort for a corner kick.
The hosts grabbed the lead from Udom’s ensuing corner kick as it was mistakenly tipped into goal by Wardun.
Cambodia doubled their advantage three minutes later after Chan Vathanaka’s free-kick from the right was headed back into the danger area by Sok Sovan for Sokpheng to fire home.
Brunei skipper Faiq Jefri Bolkiah put Adi Said through in the 23rd minute but the latter’s shot was saved by Sereyroth. Wardun was kept busy and made a double save around the half hour mark.
Brunei were having trouble dealing with the speed of their opponents especially down the flanks and Md Asnawi Syazni Abd Aziz was sent on to replace Mohammad Shafie Hj Md Effendy in the backline in the 40th minute.
Cambodia added to their tally three minutes later after Vathanaka played Udom through and the latter rounded Wardun to put the ball into an empty net.
The Wasps had an opportunity to pull one back just before the interval after good work from Faiq down the left flank before putting it across goal.
Sereyroth got a hand to it only for it to land for Adi but the latter got it all wrong by blasting over from eight yards out.
The second half didn’t provide as much but Brunei tried to get back by making an attacking change by sending on Azizi Ali Rahman for Adi in the 65th minute.
Their best chance came in the 77th minute when Ak Fakharazzi Pg Hj Hassan struck one from inside the box only to watch it go narrowly over the crossbar.
More disaster struck for the Wasps as they finished the match with 10 men after Ak Yura Indera Putera Pg Yunos was red carded for pulling down Dina at the edge of the box moments before the final whistle.
Cambodia coach Lee Tae-hoon felt that his charges stuck to the game plan and he took a more cautious approach after the interval.
“I told the players that we needed to create a high pressure game,” said Lee.
“The players followed my order but in the second half, they lost concentration. I was worried about injuries so I changed some of the players after the break,” concluded the South Korean.