Cambodia set up final clash with Indonesia, the team they lost in straight sets earlier
Bangkok, Thailand, May 7, 2023 – Hosts Cambodia bounced back to beat Thailand with terrific comeback 3-2 win in the Sunday’s semifinals of the 32nd Southeast Asian (SEA) Games to next go up against unbeaten Indonesia in their debut final showdown of the biennial regional multi-sport competition.
Cambodia’s magnificent come-from-behind 18-25, 21-25, 25-21, 25-16, 15-10 win in exhausting 133 minutes was another agony added to the old foes’ same wound. At the previous edition two years ago in Vietnam, the Cambodians also pulled off a hard-fought five-set win against Thailand in the third-place playoff clash.
More importantly, this great win has handed Cambodia an opportunity to fight for gold medal for the first time in 40 years. The country has never made it to the final before since they made debut in the SEA Games in Singapore in 1983. However, their best SEA Games performance came at the previous edition in 2021 when they picked up a well-earned bronze medal.
Cambodia, backed by the cheering home crowd of around 5,000 packing the Olympic Complex Indoor Main Hall in Phnom Penh, made a poor start in the Sunday’s semifinal clash against Thailand, former eight-time SEA Games champions and current world No.64, to go down to the well-organized rivals in the first two sets 18-25, 21-25.
After that, the host side shrugged off rust just in time and clawed their way back in the third set as they mixed the excellent offensive combinations from solid blocks by Ratanak Phol and Nimul Mouen with powerful attacks from Mom Koun and Sarun Pin to take the hard-fought set 25-21.
Their confidence boosted, Cambodia maintained their good show in the fourth set which they took the initial lead with a three-point clear at 16-13. As Thai nerves began to fray and became more prone to unforced mistakes, the Cambodians found their rhythm to win six back-to-back points to extend the lead to 22-13 and 16-24. Shortly after that, a serve from Napadet Bhinijdee went wide, handing the host side the set win 25-16.
In the tie-breaker, Cambodia remained in top form to stay in front with a four-point advantage at 8-4, thanks to their intensified defence and consistent play. As the host side were leading 9-6, Thailand bounced back gallantly, with veteran Kissada Nilsawai and Thanathat Taweerat joining forces to uncork powerful attacks.
Moments later, Thanathat gave the determined Thais…
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