Laos triumph, keep final hopes afloatForward Bounkong strikes twice for the Southeast Asian side as they beat Bhutan 2-1.
Laos edged Bhutan 2-1 in their last group match of the Prime Minister Three Nations Cup football tournament at Dasharath Stadium on Saturday to keep afloat their finals hope.
Bounphachan Bounkong made sensational finishes on either side of the half time for Laos, who were defeated 2-0 by hosts Nepal in their opening game. Captain Chencho Gyeltshen hit the target for Bhutan in the tournament being held under single round robin format. The top two sides will play in the final on Friday.
The outcome meant both Nepal and Laos have three points each while Bhutan are pointless. Laos played both of their group stage matches but Bhutan and Nepal are yet to vie on Tuesday and they must beat hosts by qualify for the final. A draw or a defeat against the hosts meant Bhutan are out of the race for the final.
“We are happy and it was our second match in four days. The players have played the way we wanted and this gives us hope for the future as we have a very young team mostly under 22 age,” said Laos coach Michael Weiss. “Hopefully Nepal win the next match and we go through to the final. The most important thing is to grow and become a man because most of the players are young.”
The entertaining match saw Laos dominate ball possession with swift passes and created more chances. They took the lead as early as in the third minute through Bounkong who exhibited a flash of brilliance. The forward dribbled the ball from the edge and fired past two defenders and goalie Tshering Dendup from the area to open the scoring.
Laos came closer to doubling their advantage in the 20th but Anousone Xaypanya close range tapping squared by captain Soukaphone Vongchiengkham rebounded off the upright.
Bhutan goalie Dendup also made two diving saves to deny Bounkong’s perfectly taken freekicks both at the near post.
Bhutan replied through captain Gyeltshen who rose high inside the area to brilliantly chest-control a long pass from Nima Wangdi despite under marking by Laos defenders and quickly placed the ball at the back of the net.
But Laos had the last laugh as Bounkong restored his side’s lead in the 70th minute again exhibiting his quality. He found a long pass from captain Vongchiengkham exactly at the edge of the area after a bounce and applied a perfect volley to send the ball at the near post to stun Bhutan.
Bhutan coach Pema Dorji expressed satisfaction with his side’s performance despite the defeat. “The player played as per plan but we conceded late goal because the players were tired,” said Dorji.