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Recriminations after SEA soccer debacle

Recriminations after SEA soccer debacle

C AMBODIA'S football team - beaten in four SEA games, conceding 32 goals and scoring none - were too old, too indisciplined and too unfit, according to one of the many young players who missed selection.

Nov Vuthy, 21, said most of the young footballers who were in line to be picked missed out because they did not have the right connections. Vuthy said that most of the players selected had their "strings", or well-connected relatives.

Vuthy, and other young players who missed out, were simply given a slip of paper saying they were no longer needed, but were not given reasons.

"Some [of the SEA games] players never even came to practise," Vuthy said, adding that they did not have medical or fitness checks either.

He said the team coaches came from the National bodyguards and Civil Aviation, so most of their players were chosen. The bodyguards wanted to take their own team but after talks the team was mixed with those from the Civil Aviation, and a few others, he said.

The chief of the Cambodian SEA Games mission, So Samuth, could not comment on the football problem saying that "I can not give you information on this issue."

"I don't want to talk about the football but I just tell you that all of them are poor at discipline," Samuth said, adding they did not listen to their trainers.

"On the other hand some [soccer team] leaders did not have any qualifications, but they just appointed themselves as supervisors," he said.

Other coaches complained also about nepotism, and that champion athletes were overlooked because - in the case of some who were sent to Korea for training - they were married.

Yem Oddom, the deputy director of the Department of Sports, said that Prince Norodom Ranariddh's suggestion that "younger, stronger and single" athletes be sent had meant that some "third or fourth" ranked, single athletes had gone, instead of higher placed, married athletes.

"We have to change this sort of attitude, otherwise many sportspeople will remain disappointed and the team will not improve in future competitions," said one coach.

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