The Cambodian U14 Girl’s team made a big splash in their debut AFC Festival of Football on Saturday when they defied expectation to beat hosts Vietnam 2-1 in Ho Chi Minh City.
“History has been made. This is the first win by a Cambodian girls team against any national side,” head coach Sam Schweingruber told The Post by email.
“We are really proud of this achievement because Vietnam had scored some notable wins against big teams. It is a great day for Cambodian women’s football,” he wrote.
The coach hailed goals from Srey Pov and Sam Alen, while questioning a decision to disallow a 35-metre strike from Kim Hong for offside.
“We had two more chances in the last 10 minutes but we were quite happy to hear the final whistle,” added Schweingruber.
It had been a tough and tiring two days for the Cambodian girls as their first brush with stronger Asian teams had resulted in defeats by huge margins.
On Friday’s opening day of the festival, the Cambodian girls put up a bold show against Japan before going down 6-0. In their next three games, they were beaten 5-0 by North Korea, 4-0 by South Korea and 12-0 by China.
“Against North Korea we really played well for a long time. There were some bad offside calls against us,” said the coach, noting a clear size advantage held by the Koreans over his squad.
“[In the] last few minutes we conceded goals. I was seriously worried all games would be double digit defeats.”
Nerves and late lapses in concentration were also to blame for their thrashing by Japan.
However, Schweingruber applauded a “brave performance” by his second string side against South Korea.
“Interestingly, the two Koreas and Japan were semifinalists in the U17 World Cup, and we were up against their U14 teams,” he added.
“Against China it was really tough. They had this 1.83-metre tall striker who caused us so much of trouble with her headers.”
The coach also highlighted the uniqueness of the festival, which has no winners or losers. “It is the spirit of participation and friendship that counts ... It is a wonderful experience for first timers like Cambodia,” he said.
The Cambodian girls will meet the Philippines today, and play Guam and Myanmar tomorrow before winding up their first overseas trip.