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Match Report - Philippines 0 Cambodia 0

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VIENTIANE: Philippines booked their spot in the group stage of the AFF Suzuki Cup 2010 after holding Cambodia to a goalless draw at the National Sports Complex in Vientiane on Tuesday.

Needing only a point to assure themselves of a top-two finish in the qualifying competition, the Pinoys rode their luck in the first half as Sun Sopanha and Khoun Laboravy both hit the woodwork for Cambodia.

With neither side able to break the deadlock, both teams finished the qualifiers with five points although the Philippines enjoyed the better goal difference.

Cambodia still had a chance to qualify but their hopes were ended when Laos thrashed Timor Leste 6-1 in Tuesday's later game to eliminate their Indochinese neighbours.

Laos will now face hosts Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia in Group A in Jakarta while Philippines will meet defending champions Vietnam, Singapore and Myanmar in Group B in Hanoi.

With so much at stake, both teams began the match in a cautious manner with Philippines enjoying the better of the early chances.

A deep cross from the left by Ray Jonsson in the 15th minute just failed to pick out an unmarked Ian Araneta, while Phil Younghusband should have done better when he fired wide of the left upright three minutes later.

Cambodia gradually asserted themselves and went close to breaking the deadlock in the 28th minute after they were awarded a free-kick near the left by-line for a foul on Khim Borey. Despite the narrow angle, Sopanha went directly for goal and his shot cannoned back off the left upright.

Five minutes later, the Cambodians were awarded another free-kick, this time on the right edge of the Philippines box for David Basa's trip on Keo Sokngon. With the Philippines defence anticipating a cross, Laboravy nearly caught them out by blasting his effort against the crossbar.

The ball rebounded to Kouch Sokumpheak but the striker sent his header straight into the grateful arms of goalkeeper Neil Etheridge.

The Philippines defence was nearly caught out by a long through ball to Borey four minutes into the second half. Etheridge came out of his box and just managed to get to the ball as the Cambodian midfielder attempted to round him.

Cambodia intensified the pressure and Sokumpheak should have given them the lead in the 62nd minute when he missed the ball with an airshot after being found completely unmarked in the Philippines box by Sophana's cross from the right.

A minute later, Sokumpheak just failed to get the telling touch again after he was found at the near post by Borey's centering pass from the left byline.

Having survived those scares, the Pinoys were able to turn aside whatever the Cambodians could throw at them in the remaining minutes.

They could even have grabbed a winner as Phi Younghusband forced a fine diving save out of Cambodian goalkeeper Ouk Mic in stoppage time.