Troubling times continue to be afoot at the Football Federation of Cambodia as their U23 national team look likely to complete a second successive SEA Games campaign without a single point won.
The Kingdom’s men, led by the lambasted head coach Lee Tae Hoon of South Korea, take on current Group B leaders Thailand today from 4:30pm at Yangon’s Thuwunna YTC Stadium. Cambodia have lost 4-0 to their neighbouring rivals in both of the past two SEA Games group stages as well as losing 2-1 in the semi-final of the 2013 BIDC Cup at Olympic Stadium on November 8.
Hosts Myanmar also booked their place in this Thursday’s semi-finals after drawing with Thailand 1-1 on Saturday. East Timor and reigning silver medalists Indonesia fought out a goalless stalemate on Saturday to ensure Cambodia would finish bottom of the group.
A 3-2 loss to East Timor last Thursday was a bitter pill to swallow for Cambodia, with Sos Souhana’s 23rd-minute opener cancelled out by Felipe Santos moments later.
The Timorese then went ahead just before half-time through Pedro Gois, but Prak Mony Udom drew things back level on 71 minutes.
With three minutes left on the clock, Diogo Rangel was at hand to grab all three points for East Timor, although Cambodia would at least have been pleased to have finally found the back of the net.
Today’s 7:15pm kickoff in Yangon sees Myanmar face Indonesia. The hosts are equal on points and goal difference with Thailand, so will need to get a better result than them to assume top of the table honours.
Little had been expected of Cambodia’s chances in Myanmar following news that four players had been kicked off the team just hours before flying out to Yangon.
However, the FFC stated it would not release information on the matter until after the squad returns home.
Football fans here will yet again be demanding the immediate sacking of Lee as coach and it will be interesting to see how the federation responds to reports that the Korean tactician failed to train with his players a week before their departure to the SEA Games as well as unsubstantiated rumours that he had been arrested and then quickly released for engaging in illegal activities close to that time.
Cambodia’s official FIFA world ranking has recently improved to 188th from an all-time low of 198th in July, but a slide down again appears probable considering they presently sit just above Brunei and East Timor.
The Kingdom’s best ever ranking of 154th came during Lee’s initial stint in March 2011.