Fans of the Cambodian nat-ional football team echoed their fears ahead of a tough draw in the 26th SEA Games in Indonesia following the 1-0 loss to Nepal on Friday evening.
The U23 squad, who are set to face Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore in Group A of the region’s biennial competition, put in a poor performance in their last internat-ional tune-up match, attended by a smattering of home support at Olympic Stadium.
Substitute striker Santhosh Shahukhala scored the solitary goal for the visitors five minutes before the final whistle off a perfect cross from midfielder Jagajeet Shrestha. The scoreline flattered the hosts, with Cambodia keeper Sou Yaty denying numerous smart shots from Nepal.
Despite being an international fixture, many Cambodian players seemed off focus with a distinct lack of good movement from midfield to attack. Some experienced members such as central midfielder Chhun Sothearath, right winger Chhin Chhoeun, and strikers Khoun Laboravy and Phoung Soksana failed to create any sustained pressure on their opponents.
The only real chance for the home side happened in 77th minute when Samuth Dalin launched a 30-metre strike from the right side that Nepalese stopper Kiran Kumar Limbu parried over the bar. Of the few positives from the game, Cambodia’s Sou Yaty, defenders Sok Sovan and Sok Rithy, and midfielder Sos Sohana showed flashes of talent.
Cambodia head coach Lee Tae-Hoon claimed after the game his players did not give 100 per cent because they didn’t want to suffer any injuries prior to the SEA Games, adding that they would quickly move on from any negativity arising from the match.
Lee also noted the strength of the Nepal team, who appeared to link up far better on the day to claim their only win from three friendlies during a tour of Southeast Asia.
According to the latest fixture list, Cambodia will kick off their 2011 SEA Games campaign against hosts Indonesia on November 7, before facing Singapore two days later, then Thailand on November 11 and defending champions Malaysia on November 13. All games will be held at the Gel-ora Bung Karno Stadium in the SEA Games co-hosting city of Jakarta.
“All four teams whom we will meet [at the SEA Games] are bigger rivals than Nepal, so we will have busier games. I will continue to encourage [my players] to focus on the Games,” said Lee.
The South Korean coach also expressed his concern over the fitness of key players Keo Sokngon, Khoun Laboravy, Phoung Soksana and Touch Pancharong.
FFC donates to flood relief
The Football Federation of Cambodia has announced a donation of 50 million riels (US$12,225) to the Cambodian Red Cross to help victims of recent flooding. The money, which was raised from ticket
sales during the 2011 Mekong Region Youth International U21 Football Tournament – or BIDC Cup – held at Olympic Stadium earlier in the month, was handed over during a ceremony at the Cambodian Red Cross main office last Thursday.
TRANSLATED BY IN SOPHENG