Doha: Cambodia cruised into the next round of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup 2023 Joint Qualification after defeating Pakistan 2-1 in the second leg on Tuesday, advancing 4-1 on aggregate.
Having won the first leg 2-0 last Thursday, Cambodia started with a massive advantage, but the Pakistanis, cheered on loudly by some 250 odd spectators, gave them a serious scare before losing steam midway through the second half and crashing to a 2-1 defeat in the hot and humid Qatari capital.
Pakistan coach Jose Antonio Nogueira had promised an improved performance after his boys squandered a few chances in the first leg, and things certainly looked good for them after the initial 10 minutes of circumspection during which the Cambodians dominated the exchanges.
In the seventh minute, Cambodia's Prak Mony Udom saw his powerful shot from just outside the box sail wide of the Pakistani goal.
Four minutes later Udom was in the thick of the action once again but his well-executed free-kick was punched away by Pakistan goalkeeper Yousuf Butt.
Butt kept egging on his players loudly and often took risks, advancing far up in a desperate bid to overturn the deficit, and sure enough Pakistan saw a glimmer of hope when Ouk Sovann handled the ball inside the box and earned a yellow card for his troubles.
Adnan Bashir stepped up and easily scored past Cambodia goalkeeper Keo Soksela to put Pakistan ahead in the 18th minute.
Bashir had another golden chance to score a couple of minutes later shot wide with the goalkeeper at his mercy.
With the enterprising Mohammad Adnan Yaqoob proving more than a handful on the right flank, the Cambodia defenders were under serious pressure.
In the 36th minute a fine corner kick taken by Adnan found Bashir, but the forward’s powerful header missed the target.
Pakistan had another opportunity just before half-time but Ali Uzair’s cracking effort was thwarted by goalkeeper Soksela.
Soksela acquitted himself very well in the second half too, saving a couple of shots from Rahees Nabi.
But the Cambodians rallied splendidly thereafter creating chance after chance and sure enough got the equaliser in the 64th minute with Sath Rasib taking advantage of some poor Pakistani defending.
Having opened their account, the Cambodians upped the tempo, finally nailing the win through substitute Reung Bunheing, who netted off a Sieng Chanthea pass in the 89th minute just five minutes after coming in as a substitute for Keo Sokpheng.