After a warm and rousing reception in the Norwegian capital, the serious business of football got underway for the Cambodian team at the 2017 Homeless World Cup this week.
The young Cambodian squad of Som Sokla, Mut Sakpich, Kin Ratana, Long Sovatha, Choeun Sochat, Seng Saray and goalkeeper Van Ream opened their account with a 7-5 victory over South Korea on Tuesday.
Super striker Mut Sakpich, 18, found the back of the net five times in a sunny Oslo as Cambodia got off to the perfect start ahead of their next clash with Germany.
In a cracking second match, Sakpich added to his tally with four goals, while 16-year-old keeper Ream was in imperious form, regularly thwarting the Germans as Cambodia romped to a 5-3 victory.
Next up were Italy, with both sides needing a win to secure advancement to the next round.
In a pulsating, end-to-end encounter, the Italians took the lead four times only for the Cambodian warriors to equalise and peg back their European oppponents each time.
With only five seconds left in the match, and a well-deserved 4-4 draw seemingly inevitable, Cambodian hearts were broken when Italy grabbed a win with the last kick of the game.
After the contest, the Italian manager was full of praise for the brave Cambodia side.
“Your country has really improved. That was a very tough game for us,” he said.
As of press time yesterday, Cambodia were in joint second place in Group C, level on six points with Italy and Romania, behind reigning champions Mexico, who top the group with a perfect nine points from their three games.