Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Cambodia aiming for turnaround

Cambodia aiming for turnaround

Cambodia head coach Leonardo Vittorino and his senior side take on Vietnam today in Hanoi in the third round of 2019 AFC Asian Cup qualifying.
Cambodia head coach Leonardo Vittorino and his senior side take on Vietnam today in Hanoi in the third round of 2019 AFC Asian Cup qualifying.

Cambodia aiming for turnaround

Cambodia national head coach Leonardo Vittorino could carry some tactical and positional concerns to the My Dinh National Stadium in Hanoi today when the Cambodian senior footballers face Vietnam in the second leg of their Group C clash in the 2019 Asian Cup third-round qualifiers (at 7pm), having lost the first leg at home 2-1 to a late goal on September 5.

The 1-0 win against Afghanistan at Olympic Stadium in the campaign continues to be the Brazilian’s rallying cry, though the U23 team he led in Kuala Lumpur suffered badly at the 2017 SEA Games in August and the seniors have also been under lot of pressure to show signs of improvement following their 3-1 loss to Indonesia in Bekasi in a friendly five days ago.

“What does [the victory over Afghanistan] tell you?” Vittorino said before the ill-fated SEA Games campaign. “We have potential. We need to work hard to harness it well.”

Jordan, who trounced Cambodia 7-0 in Amman at the start of the qualifiers, currently lead the group with seven points and head to the neutral venue in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, to take on Afghanistan, while Vietnam, who are second with five points, with three of those coming from the previous encounter, will strive to build on home advantage.

A decidedly stronger Indonesia exposed Cambodian weaknesses at the front and the back, bringing to the fore Vittorino’s ongoing struggle to infuse cohesion in the ranks, one that has often been found wanting.

Despite making several format alterations and style changes, the coach has been unable to find a balance both he and the team are comfortable with, and one that could withstand pressures from more organised and skilful sides like Vietnam.

While Vittorino has been insistent that he needed more time to rebuild the side as a strong unit, the chain of poor performances by the national side has ignited furious reaction on social media on a huge scale, with critics often questioning his player choices and on-pitch tactics.

As of now, the general population continues to provide unwavering support to the national team, as evident by big turnouts for home matches. But as one former national footballer warned, that kind of patronage could soon disappear if the results do not match that enthusiasm.

Weak foundation?
Then there are those who seriously question Vittorino’s firm belief that he is out to build a strong future. However well meant this strategy is, how can he ever hope to build a strong structure on a foundation that is showing no signs of holding up?

Therein lies the dilemma for Vittorino, who seemingly is trying his best to make the most of the rather average hand he has been dealt.

With every game that attracts national attention, the most popular and watched sport in the Kingdom raises debate as to how good its national side is and how long before it gets better. A good result against Vietnam may set a positive tone in this nationwide debate.

MOST VIEWED

  • Ministry requests school opening

    The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport on Thursday said it would request a decision from Prime Minister Hun Sen to allow a small number of schools to reopen next month. Ministry spokesman Ros Soveacha said if the request is granted, higher-standard schools will reopen

  • Kingdom eyes India FTA, China deal set for August

    Cambodia is studying the possibility of establishing a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) with India to open a new market with the second-largest regional economy. This comes as an FTA with China is scheduled to be signed next month while similar negotiations with South Korea

  • Judge lands in court after crashing into alleged thief

    Sen Sok district police on Thursday sent a Koh Kong Provincial Court judge to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on manslaughter charges after he crashed his car into a woman riding a motorbike on Wednesday, killing her. District police chief Hour Meng Vang told The

  • Preah Vihear court drops charges against villagers

    The Preah Vihear Provincial Court has dropped all charges against eight ethnic Kuoy villagers who were in a land dispute with the Hengfu Group Sugar Industry Co Ltd since 2014. Wednesday’s decision was made by the judge who tried the case on June 10. The eight

  • Gov’t to boost Siem Reap tourism

    The Ministry of Tourism released the results of an inter-ministerial committee meeting concerning Siem Reap province’s Tourism Development Master Plan for 2020-2035 on Wednesday, revealing the government’s plan to improve the overall tourist landscape there. The meeting was attended by Minister of Tourism

  • Residents ordered to remove structures on Phnom Penh’s canal

    Phnom Penh municipal governor Khuong Sreng has ordered authorities to act against the perpetrators who built houses along the Luo 5 canal in Meanchey district. The municipal administration plans to create a committee to solve the matter. The order was given on Wednesday while Sreng led

  • ‘On the offensive’: Cambodia to load up on loans to stimulate economy

    As the dust settles on the economy, Cambodia comes to grips with what needs to be done to turn the economy around, starting with a big shopping list for credit ‘We are going on the offensive,” Vongsey Vissoth, Ministry of Economy and Finance permanent secretary

  • Eighty replacement peacekeepers set for Mali mission despite Covid

    Eighty Cambodian blue helmet soldiers who completed the peacekeeping mission under the UN umbrella in Mali will return to Cambodia on Friday, said the Centre for Peacekeeping Forces spokeswoman Kosal Malida. “To protect their families and communities from the Covid-19 pandemic, the 80 are required to

  • Government set to make up for cancelled April holiday

    The government is set to make up for a five-day Khmer New Year holiday late this month or early next month. The holiday was earlier cancelled due to the onset of Covid-19. The announcement is expected on Friday as the government is studying a range

  • Families told to register for cash handouts

    The government has called on poor families to apply to commune authorities for evaluation to receive financial support during the Covid-19 crisis. A $300 million budget has been planned for implementation within a year. Ministry of Economy and Finance secretary of state Vongsey Visoth said this