Newly appointed national football team head coach Prak Sovannara has adopted a balanced approach in drawing up a list of 30 probables ahead of Cambodia’s two friendly fixtures against an Ulhsan University side from South Korea this Friday and Sunday at Olympic Stadium.
The two games are seen as a gateway to the Kingdom’s preparations for their Group E matches in the 2014 AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers in the Philippines during the first week of March.
It is Prak Sovannara’s second term at the helm of national football affairs, having taken the side past the qualifying stage of the 2008 Suzuki Cup, an honour that has eluded several foreign coaches in the past few years.
The vastly experienced Phnom Penh native, who gave up his job as Naga Corp head coach to assume national duty earlier this month, is firing an early warning to all 30 players that their selections are not guaranteed and that each one of them will have to earn their place in the side.
“We will see how these players perform in friendly games and the training camp that follows, and those whose performances are not worthy of selection will have to be left out,” Sovannara told the Post.
“We will work out different combinations and assign specific roles to the players based on the performances in these matches and the camp that follows.”
The recall of Ministry of National Defence midfielder Chhin Chhoeun, who was overlooked by Sovannara’s predecessors Lee Tae Hoon and Hok Sochetra, highlights the new coach’s attempt to square experience with emerging talent. The retention of Sun Sovanrithy and San Narith bolsters that argument.
Seventeen-year-old Hoy Phallin, a talented midfielder from Preah Khan Reach, heads the list of new faces. Phnom Penh Crown’s French-Cambodian midfield pair of Bin Thierry and Kouch Dani have been included in the list. Chan Vathanaka, who played a vital role in Boeung Ket Rubber Field’s title-winning effort last season, also gets the nod from Sovannara.
Tried and tested names like Keo Sokgnorn and Khim Borey have been retained, while two notable omissions are Kouch Sokumpheak and Khuon Laboravy, both out injured.
Cambodia national squad of 30
Goalkeepers: Sou Yaty (MND), Um Vichet (MND), Peng Bunchhay (Boeung Ket), Samrith Seyha (Crown)
Defenders: Touch Panchakrong (Boeng Ket), Khiev Vibol (Boeng Ket), Sun Sovanarithy (Naga), Om Thavarak (Naga), Say Piseth (Police), Sub Ravy (Police), Lay Raksmey (PKR), Suon Veasna (PKR), Sok Rithy (PKR)
Midfielders: Chhin Chhoeun (MND), Chan Vathanaka (Boeng Ket), San Narith (Naga), Teap Vathanak (Naga), Chuon Chum (Naga), Sun Sophana (Naga), Bin Thierry (Crown), Sos Souhana (Crown), Khim Borey (Crown), Kouch Dani (Crown), Hoy Phallin (PKR), Prak Mony Udom (PKR), Sok Chanraksmey (PKR),
Chhun Sothearath (BBU)
Forwards: Phoung Soksana (MND), Sim Vutha (Police), Keo Sokgnorn (Boeung Ket)
Apart from head coach Prak
Sovanara, the following are the officials named by the Football Federation of Cambodia for the Philippines mission: Khiev Phearith (manager), Ing Saknida (assistant coach), Meas Channa (assistant coach), Prak Vanny (goalkeeping coach), Soeur Vannak (cameraman), Hay Sakiri (team doctor), Chou (general assistant).
To contact the reporter on this story: H S Manjunath at firstname.lastname@example.org