Cambodia 2 Brunei 3
Photo credit: Asean Football Federation
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Yangon: Brunei Darussalam improved their chances of reaching the AFF Suzuki Cup Final Round as they came from behind to beat Cambodia 3-2 at the Youth Training Centre in Yangon on Tuesday.
In a battle between the only two teams in the Qualification Round who had yet to pick up a point, Prak Mony Udom capitalised on poor defending to open the scoring for Cambodia after 24 minutes.
But Brunei came back strongly in the second half and goals by Aminuddin Zakwan Tahir, Helmi Zambin and Azwan Saleh in a 14-minute spell put them on top before Khim Borey grabbed a late consolation for the Cambodians.
The result moved Brunei back into contention for a top-two finish with three points from two games and ended the qualifying hopes of Cambodia, who have no points after three matches.
Cambodia coach Hok Sochetra made three changes from the 1-0 loss to Laos on Sunday with Um Vichet replacing Sou Yaty in goal, Say Piseth coming in for the injured Tieng Tiny in defence and Chhun Sotherath taking over from suspended captain Sun Sopannha in midfield.
There was only one change for Brunei from their 1-0 loss to Myanmar last Friday with Azwan Saleh replacing Azwan Ali Rahman.
There was little to trouble either defence in the opening minutes but the game sparked to life after a defensive lapse allowed Cambodia to open the scoring in the 24th minute.
There appeared to be little danger when the Cambodians played an innocuous looking ball into the Brunei box but goalkeeper Wardun Yusof hesitated and Udom nipped in to tuck the ball into the net.
Buoyed by the goal, Cambodia continued to press and they went close to adding a second as a long-range drive by Keo Sokngon and a volley by Sos Suhana both flew just over the crossbar.
Brunei’s best chance to level before the break fell to Shahrazen Said who rose above the Cambodian defence to reach a Sairol Sahari free-kick but saw his header pushed aside by goalkeeper Um Vichet.
The Wasps came out strongly after the break and went close just two minutes to the second half when Shahrazen’s header off a Rosmin Kamis corner bounced hard off the ground and went just over the crossbar.
Cambodia had a great opportunity to extend their lead on the counterattack in the 52nd minute when Sokngon’s through ball released Phourng Soksana who outpaced the Brunei defence down the middle but was denied by an excellent block by Wardun.
A shot on the turn by Shahrazen produced an excellent save by Vichet but Brunei kept up the pressure and got a deserved equaliser in the 56th minute when a cross found Aminuddin who brought the ball under control before firing home a low shot that gave Vichet no chance.
Cambodia thought that they had regained the lead just before the hour when Soksana tucked the ball into net after a goalmouth scramble only to see his effort disallowed as he had strayed into an offside position.
Vichet then produced another good save to deny Azwan Saleh but he let his side down on the resulting corner in the 63rd minute as he flapped at the ball, which allowed Helmi to turn the ball in from point-blank range.
The Cambodian defence appeared rattled and they fell further behind in the 70th minute after a cross by Najip Tarif was weakly cleared to a lurking Azwan Saleh who fired home easily to make it 3-1.
In stoppage time, Khim Borey headed in a corner to cut the deficit but it proved to be just a consolation as the Cambodians suffered their third straight loss.