Singapore scrape past gritty Cambodia for second SEA Games group win
Singapore brought their Southeast Asian (SEA) Games campaign back on track after a 3-1 victory over an unlucky Cambodia at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Monday night.
A Safirul Sulaiman free kick and Faris Ramli header gave Aide Iskandar's side a two-nil lead going into the break.
Chan Vathana pulled one back for Cambodia early in the second half, but the much maligned forward Sahil Suhaimi made sure of the win with an injury time goal to make it 3-1 on the night.
Cambodia were never overawed by the partisan crowd and had a couple of decent scoring opportunities, including a blatant penalty claim that was waved off by referee Ma Ning from China.
Cambodian captain Prak Mony Udom troubled the Young Lions' defence with his quick pressing and he duly created the opening chance in the third minute when his cross found an unmarked Soeuy Visai but the defender headed wide.
Udom was at it again 13 minutes later when his mazy dribble took him into the box, only to see goalkeeper Syazwan Buhari charging out to claim the ball.
Neither team found any rhythm in the attacking third, and the crowd began to get restless with a few faint boos ringing around the Jalan Besar arena.
Singapore were let off the hook in the 30th minute when Shakir Hamzah's foot caught Udom in the box, only for the referee to wave play on.
Just when it looked like the teams were going into the break on level terms, two quick goals broke Cambodian hearts. Sahil was adjudged to have been fouled outside the box in the 44th minute, and Safirul stepped up to bend his free kick past a full-stretched Um Serei Rath to put the home team ahead.
The crowd was waiting for the half time whistle but Irfan Fandi's tenacity to close down goalie Rath saw him win the ball and the youngster sent a chip across goal for the unmarked Faris to head it in for a two-goal advantage.
Tempers boiled over in the second period when defender M. Anumanthan went flying into a tackle on Sok Sovan in the 54th minute as players from both sides came together in a short scuffle. The Singapore defender received a yellow card.
Cambodia reduced the deficit two minutes later when substitute Chan Vathanaka glanced in a header, off a Chhin Chhoeun cross.
Another superb move in the 64th minute by the visitors saw Hoy Phallin thread a through ball for Chhoeun whose tight-angle shot was dealt with by Syazwan in goal.
Singapore had a glorious opportunity 15 minutes from time to regain a two-goal advantage, when Safirul's pinpoint free kick fell to Shakir who headed over the bar.
Cambodia pulled out all the stops but were undone by Amy Recha's injury time through ball to leave Sahil with all the time in the world to slot the ball home to open his SEA Games account.
Singapore's victory ensured Myanmar's passage into the semifinal from Group A with defending champions Thailand and Vietnam having already qualified from Group B. Aide's team will need a result in the final group match against Indonesia on Thursday night to join the trio.
Cambodia: Um Serei Rath (GK), Sok Sovan, Nen Sothearoth, Soeuy Visal, Sam Oeun Pidor, Prak Mony Udom (C) (Keo Sokpheng 78'), Sos Suhana, Ol Ravy (Hoy Phallin 55'), Sok Chanrasmey (Chan Vathanaka 50'), Chhin Chhoeun, Ohanny Y Ratha
Singapore: Syazwan Buhari (GK), Shakir Hamzah, M. Anumanthan, Sheikh Abdul Hadi, Al-Qaasimy Rahman, Pravin Guanasagaran (Shamil Sharif 84'), Adam Swandi, Faris Ramli (Amy Recha 67'), Safirul Sulaiman, Sahil Suhaimi, Irfan Fandi (Ho Wai Loon 53')