Cambodia qualified for their first-ever SEA Games semi-final at the 2019 edition in the Philippines, thanks to a remarkable 3-1 win over Malaysia.
Prior to the match, Cambodia sat level on points with both Malaysia and the Philippines, with their hopes of pulling off an unlikely upset seeming slim. The tournaments’ hosts had no issue in dispatching Timor Leste 6-1, in a resounding victory which seemed to confirm their passage to the knockout stage.
However, the Angkor Warriors kicked things into gear at the start of the second half of their game against the heavy favorites. Midfielder In Sodavid opened the scoring for Cambodia in the 56th minute and was soon followed by rising star striker Sieng Chanthea, as the 17-year-old forward netted his second goal of the tournament just a minute later.
The remarkable result was wrapped up in the 68th minute when experienced over-age player Keo Sokpheng added a third. Malaysia scored a consolation goal through half-Australian midfielder Quentin Cheng, currently in the academy of Australian side Central Coast Mariners, but it was ultimately too little too late for Harimau Malaya.
In the end, the scoreline turned out to be incredibly significant, as Cambodia were able to secure passage on goal difference – having scored just one more than the Philippines and conceding the same number.
This achievement comes on the back of another impressive victory for Cambodia, as their U19 side pipped neighbors Thailand to a place at next year’s AFC U19 Championships in Uzbekistan. The growing wave of strong performances at youth levels might just be spelling a bright future for Cambodia.