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FFC reacts to coach's remarks

The Football Federation of Cambodia give a steely response to criticism from departing national team coach Scott O’Donell about their friendly game policy

THE Football Federation of Cambodia (FFC) has issued its reaction to the remarks made by outgoing national football team coach Scott O’Donell, whose one-year stint draws to a close at the end of this month.

FFC Deputy Secretary and Spokesman May Tola wished to point out the Australian’s contract was purely a one year contract, and that the question over renewal should not have arisen. “Only the Federation is bestowed with the power to renew a contract, not an individual,” May Tola stated.

The Federation official also wanted to respond to claims by the coach that the FFC had different ideas to what he felt was in the best interests of the national team. “Perceptions may be different but the purpose is the same; the good of Cambodian football,” expressed May Tola. “The Federation is now convinced that Scott O’Donell did not try to understand the functionality of the Federation, and was not willing to appreciate the fact that [it has its] our own priorities and constraints. While a coach may be looking at a team in particular, the Federation has to answer a nation.”

O’Donell had made his frustrations clear over a lack of exposure to international matches. However, May Tola noted the complications in planning such fixtures. “Fixing international friendlies is no easy task,” he assured. “There are administrative snags, problems with resource mobilization, and we have to take a whole load of these factors into account when we plan the future of our football ... Perhaps Scott [O’Donell] was unwilling to take a look at these issues while forcefully pushing his own agenda for the team.”

The secretary agreed that the coach would be frustrated when he doesn’t get what he wants for the national team, but asserted that “his demands have to match ground realities.”

May Tola also pointed to a congested domestic season that prevents more regular national team games.

“It is difficult to plan international fixtures for the [national] side since the players are involved every weekend in the league,” he said. “The national side [usually] assembles at the end of the league, but now things are different. We finish our league this year much earlier than we have ever done. We have more time than normal and we would like to give our national side as much international experience as we can muster.”

The quest for a successor
The FFC’s search for O’Donell’s replacement has already begun, with the Federation training their sights firmly on South Korea to find a suitable candidate, although a short list of names has yet to be revealed. According to May Tola, the lines of communication between the Korean Embassy and Korean Football Federation have been opened and the vetting process is well underway.

“We have asked the Korean Federation, which has been very helpful, to us to pass on the CVs of several aspirants, and we at the [Cambodia] Federation will have the final say on the choice,” he declared. “We want a qualified coach as soon as we can, but there is no pressure on us right now to desperately get one. We will not look beyond Korea, and if we do not come across a suitable candidate we may opt for one of our own coaches. In fact, it was under a Cambodian coach [Prak Sovannara] that we first qualified for the Suzuki Cup, and we have some good options here.”

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