Cambodia dump holders to reach first-ever HBT final

|     Fadhil Yunus     |

CAMBODIA national under-21 team will make their first appearance in the Hassanal Bolkiah Trophy for ASEAN Youth Football Tournament final after two-goal hero Narong Kakada inspired them to a 2-1 victory over defending champions Myanmar in the semi-final at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium on Wednesday night.

The Hassanal Bolkiah Trophy will see a new finalist being crowned champions for the first time following Myanmar’s exit.

Cambodia midfielder Sos Suhana, who already recorded successive strikes against Lao PDR and Singapore, struck his shot wide from outside the box in the early minutes.

The young Angkor Warriors took the lead after Narong Kakada rifled home into the roof of the net after being set up by Suhana, who so far has contributed to every single goal for his country.

Myanmar midfielder Myat Kaung Khant struck a ferocious drive with his free-kick but Cambodia shot-stopper Keo Soksela was equal to the task.

Myanmar forward Win Naing Tun, who has also been in the scoresheet in the tournament, headed the ball wide twice in a matter of minutes including from a corner.

Myanmar’s midfielder Hein Htet Aung deceived a Cambodia defender with a clever touch setting himself for a clear shot but Yue Safy got in the way with a pivotal block.

Cambodia doubled their lead in the 32nd minute after an unmarked Kakada fired a stunning volley after being laid by Suhana who provided his second assist of the competition.

Cambodia’s Narong Kakada shoots to score his side’s first goal against Myanmar
Cambodia’s Chheng Meng (blue) dribbles past a Myanmar defender. – PHOTOS: KHAIRIL HASSAN

Cambodia defender Chheng Meng struck a decent free-kick on target but Myanmar goalkeeper Phone Thitsar Min got hold off the ball.

Suhana, who deserved a goal with his combination play, was played through by Brak Thiva and succeeded in rounding off Phone Thitsar but his goal-bound effort was denied by the last Myanmar defender.

Myanmar pulled a goal back in the 39th minute after nearly losing a third goal after Cambodia captain Souey Visal was caught wanting with a free header with no-one guarding him following a corner.

It was a frantic few moments for the Cambodia captain, after initially missing his header from a corner, he conceded an own goal after inadvertently turning Myanmar’s Lwin Moe Aung’s free-kick into his own net.

Myat hits his free-kick straight at Soksela in the 41st minute, but the goalkeeper was not troubled before Pyae Sone Naing fired his shot wide after beating Souey.

Cambodia survived a scare after the tricky Hein Htet skipped past a couple of players but could not find a way to beat Soksela who closed down the angle.

Myanmar seemed to be vulnerable from a set-piece after Cambodia midfielder Soe Lwin Lwin was left unmarked in the far post but could not direct his attempt towards goal.

The raucous Myanmar supporters were given another reason to get excited after Myat curled a fine attempt from long range, but sailed over the bar.

Cambodia substitute Kan Pisat provided a lung-bursting run before playing a neat one-two to the magnificent Suhana who returned the favour with a defence-splitting pass.

However, having received the pass with the defence left static, Pisat could not beat goalkeeper Phone Thitsar in the Cambodians’ closest chance yet of regaining a two-goal cushion.

Myanmar could not find the equalising goal as Cambodia marched to their first-ever final.