The head coach of Cambodia’s national team, Leonardo Vittorino, has opted for a blend of youth and experience in picking 25 probables for two crucial home engagements at Olympic Stadium over the next two weeks – a friendly against Indonesia on June 8 and five days later an AFC Asian Cup qualifying group clash with Afghanistan.
The Brazilian, who took over from South Korea’s Lee Tae Hoon earlier this year, made it clear at a news conference yesterday that he had a long-term view of building a strong team by making the selections purely on the merit of training and performance.
“Football is all about second chances, so I have given a few players an opportunity to get back to the team, while I have kept out a few regulars who I thought did not train well enough. I have retained some experienced players, at the same time making way for promising youngsters,” the coach said, laying out what he called his strategic plan to build Cambodian football at all levels.
The coach insisted that his abiding principle has always been to reward players who worked hard in practice and played harder on the pitch. He said a close eye had been kept on each and every player and their attitudes towards training, teamwork and commitment, while carefully assessing them in making these choices.
However, he said there was always an opening for those who were not on the list to work themselves back to contention. At the same time, he warned players not to take their selection for granted.
‘Discipline, devotion important’
“Every player must earn his place. There is no such thing as superstars. I want players who deem themselves irreplaceable to know that we have youngsters to take their place if they don’t perform or train,” he said.
“For me discipline and devotion to training is very important.”
Although, Vittorino found himself on the wrong side of Cambodia’s 7-0 drubbing at the hands of Jordan two months ago in his first game in charge, the Brazilian said he was looking forward to a better performance from his players against Afghanistan, who beat the Angkor Warriors twice during the World Cup qualifiers under the supervision of Lee Tae Hoon.
“The international friendly against Indonesia is very important for us. Indonesia are a strong team, we have not beaten them in 20 years. They are not in the Asian Cup qualifiers but they are preparing for the SEA Games in Malaysia.
“So they will certainly try out various formations and players, so it is a tough match ahead of our June 13 game against Afghanistan,’’ he said.
While Vittorino was reluctant to discuss individual players, either picked or omitted, he made it a point to explain in detail why he regarded Chan Vathanaka as a great asset for the team and his inclusion in the list.
“Many people in Cambodia may not know this Vathanaka has been going through special fitness training in Japan. When most of his fellow players train once a day, he has been training twice. He is not waiting for things to change [in Cambodian football] he wants to bring that change to the team,” the Brazilian said.
List of probables
Goalkeepers: Sou Yaty, Hul Kimhuy (FFC Academy), Om Sereyroth, Out Udom
Defenders: Chhom Pisa, Nub Tola, Chantha Bin Thierry, Soeuy Visal, Nen Sothearoth, Seut Baraing, Ros Samuoen, Chhin Chhouen
Midfielders: Tith Dina, Prak Mony Odom, Chreng Polroth, Brak Thiva, In Sodavid, Son Vandeth
Forwards: Keo Sokgnon, Keo Sokpheng, Khun Laboravy, Chan Vathanaka, Noun Borey, Sary Matnorotin