The Cambodian national football head coach Lee Tae Hoon of South Korea believes there is a marked improvement in his team’s work ethic and fitness level but says a lot needs to be done to fine-tune the players’ positional sense and instinctive first-touch passing.
Back home after a 35-day training tour of neighbouring Vietnam, the second Korean coach in charge of the Kingdom’s team in three years said the trip was an eye-opener for himself and the rest of the squad.
“Most importantly, I got to know the players – their strengths and weaknesses – better and they in turn got to know me and my methods better, leading to a healthier working climate,” he said after a training session at the Olympic Stadium on Tuesday.
“There is a load of hard work ahead of us before we get down to the crucial qualifying rounds of the 2010 Suzuki Cup in Laos a few weeks from now.”
During extensive training sessions and several friendlies against V-League teams, the coach said he could easily detect the zest and promise in the Cambodian squad, although he noted the players were not properly performing their professed roles, depending heavily on individual pace and losing sight of their sense of space and quick ball rotations.
“Speed is good if you can harness it well, but it needs to be supported by all-round solidity. We need to focus on the backline and to sharpen midfielders to be more mobile and lively,” said Lee.
Of the 22 players who made it to Vietnam, three including a goalkeeper have now been dropped. The streamlined squad of 18 will head to Vientiane for Suzuki Cup action during the last week of this month.
The head coach struck a cautiously optimistic note on the Kingdom’s prospects in the four-team qualifiers, contending that if the side played to its true potential they should fancy their chances of advancing to the finals, which will be played in Indonesia and Vietnam in December.
Goalkeeping had been one area of real concern for the head coach, but Lee now feels that the two stoppers Ouk Mick and Peng Bunchhay now fit into the scheme of things.
Cambodia face qualifiers hosts Laos on October 22, before playing East Timor two days later and then the Philippines on October 26.