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AFF U23 Championship

AFF U23 Championship: Sin Sovannmakara strikes late to guide Cambodia to a 1-0 win over Philippines

1:22 am AEDT 18/2/22
Cambodia U23 Philippines U23
Cambodia held their nerves to come out triumphant after an intense battle with the Young Azkals

Cambodia snatched a gritty 1-0 win over Philippines at the Morodock techno National Stadium in Phnom Penh on Thursday evening in the ongoing AFF U23 Championship. Sin Sovannmakara (81') proved to be the difference-maker between the two teams as his solitary goal not only handed the three points to Cambodia but also consolidated the top spot in the group.

It was end-to-end action right from the first whistle as both teams were going at each other with hammers and tongs to take an early lead. In the 16th minute, Cambodia skipper Tes Sambath jumped the highest to get his head on to a corner floated in by Nhean Sosidan but his attempted header came off the crossbar. A couple of minutes later, Philippines' Sandro Reyes responded in equal measure as he dribbled past two Cambodian defenders and unleashed a fierce strike at goal which required Hul Kimhuy to put his best foot forward under the sticks to keep that shot out.

In fact, both shotstoppers had to be on their toes in the first quarter as the strikers kept bombarding them with valiant shots on goal. However, as the match progressed Cambodia started to enjoy more possession and gained control at the centre of the park. Sieng Chanthea and Sa Ty also began to play in tandem which was causing a lot of trouble to the Philippine backline. In the 35th minute, the latter fired a shot from just outside the box but his attempt went whiskers wide of the post. In the final minutes of the first half, Cambodia's domination further grew but a resolute Philippines team held their fort.

The Young Azkals made two changes at halftime and introduced Oliver Bias and Mariano Suba. The substitutes had an instant impact on the match as Stewart Hall's troops started to look livelier than before. However, their domination soon fizzled out as Cambodia found clawed their way back into the match.

When it seemed that the two teams might have to share the spoils, the hosts broke the deadlock through Sovanmakara which sent the crowd to an absolute frenzy. Min Ratanak's cross in the six-yard box was half-heartedly cleared and the second ball fell for Sovannmakara. The midfielder wrapped his laces around the ball giving the keeper no chance to stop that ball from rippling the net. After falling behind Philippines showed more urgency in the attacking third but a composed Cambodia backline led by Sambath weathered the storm with little trouble.

Philippines now must win the match against Brunei on February 20 and hope that Cambodia beats Timor Leste to stand a chance for qualifying for the knockouts.