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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Kicking for country and cash

Kicking for country and cash

NOT only were footballers playing for their country in last Sunday's World Cup qualifying

match, they were kicking for cash and the Prince was paying. Caught up in the fury,

First Prime Minister Nordom Ranariddh offered bonuses on a goal-by-goal and match

basis.

The prince gave US$11,000 to Cambodia's national football team after the game, as

the team tied at 1-1 with Indonesia in an Asian Group Five qualifying match in Phnom

Penh's Olympic Stadium April 27, according to a football official.

To spur the players on, Ranariddh had personally offered cash incentives tied to

performance.

"The Prince pledged to give $20,000 if the Cambodian team beat Indonesia, $10,000

if they tied and $1,000 for each goal scored," said Ravy Khek, Vice President

of the Khmer Football Federation Association.

Ranariddh noted with visible glee after the first goal that Cambodia's football team

has made considerable progress. Praises were universal, but Khek admitted that he

did not think the team would be ready to qualify for the World Cup for some years.

Hok Sochetra, scored in the 65th minute, giving Cambodia the lead. Prince Ranariddh,

who has watched the entire tournament, jumped up from his seat and clapped with a

broad smile of congratulation. Hundreds threw plastic water bottles into the air

with cheers. But the crowd grew quiet when Indonesian striker Wododo C. Putrro scored

in the 80th minute.

Cambodia would have beat Yemen's team if they played as well as they played with

Indonesia, the prince said.

Cambodian lost to Yemen 1-0 on April 20.

Prince Ranariddh, also chief of Cambodia's National Olympic Federation, praised the

team and noted that it has developed since the SEA Games in Chiang Mai last year.

"To score against Indonesia ... that is a great compliment, but they lack experience.

When we are like this we have to calm down, but never mind," an ebullient Ranariddh

said.

"I was expecting to have three goals," Ranariddh told reporters at the

Olympic stadium after the match. "But never mind. The Cambodian team has made

progress."

According to Khek, they will have to progress a lot more before they can take on

the best in the world. "Cambodia's football team will not be able to attend

the World Cup match in the near future," he conceded. "It will have to

wait at least five years, because they are lacking in experience and training. Cambodian

athletics has just been reborn after the ruin of war."

The next match at Olympic stadium will be held on Jun 29 against Uzbekistan. The

team will play away games in Yemen and Uzbekistan on the 16th and the 25th of May.

Nobody from the Federation claimed to know if the Prince's offer still holds.

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