SEA Games: Cambodia sent Malaysia packing out of competition

From silver medalist just two years ago to leaving the competition before the start of the knockout stage had even begun, it has been a calamitous performance by the Malaysia team in Philippines.

When the draw was made, no one even considered the possibility of not making it out of the group given that Philippines, Cambodia, Timor Leste and Myanmar were the opponents in Group A.

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But the reality offered was harsh.

Only one win achieved from four matches played, against a Timor Leste side who were soundly beaten in every single game that they've played in the group stage.

A draw against Myanmar in the opening match, a defeat to Philippines and the latest, this loss to Cambodia put an early end to Ong Kim Swee's fifth Southeast Asian Games campaign.

Just like it has been in the previous three matches, the performance produced was insipid and discouraging. While the other teams have come to grasp with the state of the pitch, Malaysia didn't.

The warning signs were there in this match early on when Haziq Nadzli spilled a clearance which almost allowed Reung Bunhieng to score after just 12 minutes played. 

And the young keeper who was culpable in that single goal defeat to Philippines earlier in the campaign, his mistake will once again come to the fore in this match in the second half.

Ong Kim Swee, Cambodia v Malaysia, SEA Games 2019, 4 Dec 2019
Ong Kim Swee, Cambodia v Malaysia, SEA Games 2019, 4 Dec 2019

In the 56th minute, Haziq made a feeble attempt to punch a corner kick away, which allowed In Sovidad to guide the ball home from the edge of the box to give Cambodia the lead.

Two more would follow through Sieng Chanthea (49') and Keo Sokpheng (68') as the Cambodians ran riot against a shocked Malaysian side struggling to recover from the first punch delivered on them.

Perhaps everything could have been very different had Luqman Hakim found a little bit more accuracy when he was put through on goal after just two minutes of the restart.

This competition looks to have come too soon for Luqman and Umar Hakeem. Both are very good talent but the leap from Under-19 football to Under-23 seemed to big for them at the moment.

Ong Kim Swee has said that this fifth SEA Games for him would be his last and after bitter disappointment from earlier this year in failing to qualify for the AFC U23 Championship, this only rubs salt into the wounds.

Despite a wealth of experience available at the back, his defender left a lot to be desired while the midfield and attack have been chopped and changed continuously, trying to find the best combination.

The late Quentin Cheng goal was nothing more than a scant consolation and this one match perfectly summed up what has been a disappointing and at certain point embarrassing SEA Games for Kim Swee and his boys. 


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