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Futsal team return winless

The Cambodian national futsal team gained only experience at the 2010 AFC Futsal Championships qualifying tournament in Jakarta over the weekend

Photo by: ANTHONY SUTTON
Cambodia’s Cheth Chanrachana (left) attempts to block Philippines danger man Bahadoran Medina during their group match Monday.

Jakarta
Cambodia’s dream of a place in the 2010 AFC Futsal Championships - to be held in Tashkent, Uzbekistan May 23-30 – was well and truly shattered over the weekend after losses in all of their qualifying matches in Jakarta, including heavy defeats at the hands of Vietnam and Malaysia.

Futsal is a variation of five-a-side football played indoors on a small pitch with a smaller ball of less bounce than a regulation soccer ball. Each side must field one goalkeeper with games played with two halves of 20 minutes. The current world leaders are Brazil, followed by Spain and Italy. Thailand are the best Asian team, with a ranking of tenth worldwide.

The Cambodian delegation was lead by Keo Sareth, accompanied by team manager Vann Ly. The 12-strong squad were selected by Ouk Chamrong and his two assistants Nuth Sony and Hok Sottitya from players of the Kingdom’s FFC Futsal Championship.

Ngan Sophal, Dor Vireak, Vann Sokrethya and Cheth Chanrachana were chosen from league champions Khmer Eysann, goalkeeper Ouk Savuthy, Tep Vannaro and Ouk Serey Ratanak came from Olympic Youth, goalkeeper Kong Vong Sovichea and Soun Thorn were picked from Khmer Super Red, Be Put Sotha and Diep Sok Meng featured for Rama Holding Group, while Long Nasy was the solitary representative from Funan FC.

Despite a near constant downpour outside, the roof of Jakarta’s Tennis Indoor Stadium allowed the tournament to play out smoothly. Making their first appearance at the regional competition, the youthful Cambodian line up crammed in two training sessions before their first match, but suffered from a lack of experience against the undeniable quality of their group B opponents.

In their opening match Saturday, Cambodia faced the might of neighbours Vietnam, who quickly took control of the tie with four goals in the first quarter-of-an-hour. Dor Vireak managed to pull one back for the Kingdom before half time, although Nguyen Trong Thien made it 5-1 leading into the interval.

Ouk Serey Ratanak gave Cambodia a glimmer of hope eight minutes into the second period, but the classy Vietnamese players smashed in five more in a five minute spell, with another two late on, to end the tie 12-2 victors.

More despair was dealt to the Kingdom’s men the next day in their match against Malaysia. Despite having highlighted their weaknesses in the previous game, Cambodia were simply no match for the slick passing of the Malaysians, who netted four in the first half to no reply, and then sealed the rout with a nine goal feast in the second.

Ouk Serey Ratanak grabbed Cambodia’s sole consolation in the 30th minute, to see the score end 13-1.

Cambodia team captain Diep Sok Meng noted the superior size and skill of their opponents. “They are bigger than us and they have good technique in controlling the ball,” he remarked. “We should be [able to compete] at this level, if we had more time for training.”

Cambodia head coach Ouk Chamrong, meanwhile, remained upbeat about the results. “We’ve learned from this experience to strengthen our squad for the future,” he said. “On the pitch and at training, they have two different feelings. If they can manage their mentality well, the results should be better than this.”

Cambodia met the Philippines Monday evening in their final group match. Both teams were already out of the running, with the Philippines having lost 4-1 to both Malaysia and Vietnam.

A less one-sided game saw the Philippines win 8-4, with Bahadoran Medina producing a stellar effort to net six of his team’s goals, and even register one for Cambodia by means of an own goal. Be Putsotha, Dor Vireak and Soun Thorn were on target for Cambodia.

With Malaysia and Vietnam drawing 2-2 in their game Monday, Malaysia finished top of group B on goal difference to set up a semifinals clash today with group A runners-up and hosts Indonesia. Vietnam will face group A winners Australia later this evening. Winners of these semifinals will play a final Thursday, with the victorious side booking their ticket to the 2010 AFC Futsal Championship in Uzbekistan.

The Cambodia team flew home Tuesday.

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