Cambodia’s U23 national team will begin training together today ahead of participation in the 2013 BIDC Cup at home in November and the SEA Games in Myanmar in December.
The 26-strong squad released last Thursday by the Football Federation of Cambodia includes many familiar names favoured by head coach Lee Tae Hoon during his previous stint, which
ended last year.
The South Korean and his local assistants Meas Channa, Ieng Saknida and Oum Savong will switch between training sessions at Olympic Stadium and the National Football Centre in Cheng Meng village on the outskirts of Phnom Penh.
Fresh call-ups to the national side include Boeung Ket Rubber Field pair Ros Samoeun and Keo Sokpheng, Kirivong Sok Sen Chey’s Nhem Sovannara and Svay Rieng goalkeeper Aim Sovannarath, who was judged best gloves in the most recent Metfone C-League season.
An interesting addition to the team is Phnom Penh Crown’s French-born attacking midfielder Bin Chantha Thierry, who was forced to curtail a visit to his hometown of Paris to come back and join his compatriots.
Should Thierry goes on to make the final selection for the SEA Games, it will be the first time in nine years that a foreign-born player has represented the Kingdom at an overseas international football tournament.
Cambodian-French stars Stephane Pen and Hing Darith were in the side that suffered four straight defeats in the 2004 Tiger Cup (now the Suzuki Cup).
Thierry, along with fellow French-bred imports Boris Kok and Dani Kouch as well as Cambodian-American Alex Kem, have appeared for Cambodia in friendly fixtures in the past year.
Thierry expressed his pride at the chance to represent his ancestral homeland.
“This is really important to me, as my first goal by coming and playing in Cambodia was to join the national team.… All the efforts I have been through this season were worth it,” he told the Post.
The 22-year-old cited his experience as a semi-professional in France and his discipline on the pitch amongst the strengths he can bring to the national team.
“I know when to speed up a game and when to stay put. I can help with my technical skills, and also my mentality – I never let my team-mates down,” he said.
Thierry claims to have maintained his match fitness during the off-season with daily runs and notes there will always be a chance of success at the SEA Games despite a poor record of recent results against regional opposition.
“We are not the favorite for sure. We have nothing to lose, so let’s see,” added Thierry.
According to assistant coach Ieng Saknida, the squad will remain at 26 players for the BIDC Cup, which will be held at Olympic Stadium in November. Between four and six players will be trimmed from the side bound for Myanmar the following month, while injured members will be replaced as and when necessary.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY CHHORN NORN, TRANSLATION BY CHENG SERYRITH
Cambodia U23 Squad List
Goalkeepers: Samrith Seiha (Phnom Penh Crown), Aim Sovannarath (Svay Rieng), Sar Sophea (SR), Sou Yaty (Ministry of National Defence)
Defenders: Say Piseth (National Police), Nhem Sovannara (Kirivong Sok Sen Chey), Sok Rithy (SR), Nen Sothearoth (SR), Keo Sokpheng (Boeung Ket), Touch Pancharong (BK), Khiev Vibol (BK), Sok Sovan (BK)
Midfielders: Srey Oudom (Pol), Chhin Chhoeun (MND), Khek Khemarin (MND), Ke Vannak (MND), Ung Dara (MND), Prak Mony Udom (SR), Tum Saray (SR), Chan Vathanaka (BK), Chhun Sothearath (BK)
Forwards: Bin Chantha Thierry (PPC), Sos Souhana (PPC), Phoung Soksana (MND), Keo Sokngon (BK), Ros Samoeun (BK)