HCFA head coach Jimmy Campbell (R) stands with his Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2012 in front of Phnom Penh’s National Museum. Photograph: Sreng Meng Srun/Phnom Penh Post
The five-member Cambodian team leaves Phnom Penh today in the company of head coach Jimmy Campbell to the bustling Mexico City for the 10th edition of the Homeless Football World Cup being staged at the Plaza de la Constitucion in Zocalo from October 6 to 14.
This is Cambodia’s fifth mission to this unique and pioneering event, which uses the power of football to fight homelessness and help youngsters build their self esteem and change their lives for good.
“This is the best group of players we have taken in the past four years. We may not win the World Cup, but we will certainly perform well,” said Scotsman Jimmy Campbell, who has led the Cambodian teams to Cup appearances in Milan (2009), Rio de Janeiro (2010) and Paris (2011).
The Cambodian squad is wholly managed by the non-profit organisation Happy Football Cambodia Australia (HFCA) and its chairman, Australia-based Paraic Grogan, will also travel to Mexico.
While locally based Smart Mobile, KPMG and Paddy Rice Irish Sports Bar are lending their support to the team, overseas sponsors include Australia’s Flight Centre and Canada’s GFSS Construction.
Goalkeeper Pir Sophea will captain the side, which has two attackers in Chan Sophondara and Keo Sovanareth.
Sin Phiyou has been drafted in as a midfielder while Oun Chhanna will man the defence.
Midfielder Lek Chhunmalivy and defender Kin Phanog have been kept as reserves.
“We had 25 players to begin with. Progressively we brought that number down to seven who have been training very hard for the last two months. It is sad that only five could make it due to financial constraints,” said Campbell.
“After training so hard it is really heartbreaking for the reserves. There is still a slight chance of a last minute booking for these two, but it may or may not work out.”
Cambodia, which made their Homeless World Cup debut at Melbourne in 2008, are currently ranked 49th among the 54 nations taking part. T
he Kingdom has been placed in the six-team Group B alongside Argentina, Ireland, Costa Rica, Norway and Slovenia.
To contact the reporter on this story: H S Manjunath at [email protected]