Cambodia earned a worthy point in the opening match of their AFC U-23 Championship qualifiers as they forced higher ranked China to a goalless draw in Phnom Penh on Wednesday night.
Deterred by the torrential rain that threatened to spoil the game, however, Leonardo Vitorino’side took off a confident start as Hoy Phailin fired a warning shot early over the bar.
A fierce 40-meter free kick from Chheng Meng struck the crossbar, raising hope of a goal for Cambodia but, when this dominant phase passed, it was China who began to assert their attacking prowess
China’s best chance in the first half came when Li Shuai’s cross was met by the head of Xiang Baixu who rose highest in the box. But the tall striker missed the chance by sending his header just a few inches wide of Um Sereirath’s goal.
After the half-time, it was Cambodia who threatened to score, but the initiative gradually passed to the other side as China began to crowd the Cambodian box.
Cambodian goalkeeper Sereirath proved to be the solid rock behind the Kouprey Blue’s defense, as he did an excellent job in denying a lot of attempts from the opponents.
After the match, Cambodia coach Vitorino praised his team for their efforts in blocking China’s attacking strength.
“You ask me to pick a man of the match but I can’t pick someone out because then they’d fight,” he said, as quoted by The Khmer Times.
On a more serious note, he added: “For me, it was the whole team. This is the result of a team effort.”