Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Cambodia coach Sovannara set for Jordan test

Cambodia coach Sovannara set for Jordan test

Interim Cambodia head coach Prak Sovannara has called on his players to fight as hard as they can in today’s AFC Asian Cup with Jordan at Olympic Stadium.
Interim Cambodia head coach Prak Sovannara has called on his players to fight as hard as they can in today’s AFC Asian Cup with Jordan at Olympic Stadium. Sreng Meng Srun

Cambodia coach Sovannara set for Jordan test

The veteran of many battles, Prak Sovannara is in no doubt that today’s AFC Asian Cup third-round qualifying Group C encounter against Jordan at the Olympic Stadium at 6:30pm is the toughest he can recall in his three stints as Cambodia’s national coach spread over nearly nine years.

Named the Kingdom’s interim coach for the friendly against Myanmar last week and this crucial qualifying return leg following the sacking of Brazilian Leonardo Vittorino last month, Sovannara’s two-match reign is hardly future-defining, but the timing and circumstances in which he finds himself on the touchline have made this game something out of the ordinary for the 45-year old tactician.

As disappointing as the 2-1 defeat by Myanmar was, Sovannara said yesterday that he preferred to move on and count the positives that came his way rather than dwell on the outcome.

“I was hoping for a draw after we equalised. But we lost. Briefly we lost our focus and ended up paying for it. But Jordan is a different proposition all together,” he told The Post.

“Teams are judged by their physical, technical and mental strength, and in which of these areas can I say Cambodia has shown to be better than Jordan? We have to face the facts. It is a daunting task to overturn a 7-0 first-leg defeat, but that does not mean we give up. We will fight to the best of our abilities.”

The former Preah Khan Reach, Naga and Boeung Ket coach said the first thing he advised his players was not to go in with a defeatist attitude but to keep their spirits high and fight as hard as they can.

“I have confidence in my players that they will do their best. Playing at home could also work both ways. It could put pressure on the home team just as much as the crowd size could impact the psyche of the visitors. I hope the players will deliver a positive result for the crowd and the country,” Sovannara said.

While Jordan coach Jamal Abu Abed assertively said his target was to get three points and maintain the team’s unbeaten record so far, he played down the significance of Jordan’s huge home win when the two sides met at the start of the campaign.

“It is a different game this time,” was how Abu Abed countered the issue as he reserved opinion on whether Jordan’s decidedly superior physicality could be a decisive factor.

Weighing in on the same topic, Sovannara conceded that on the physical aspects of the game, and to a large extent on the technical side too, Jordan clearly came out in front.

‘I need players who can stand up’
The Cambodian coach made no bones about making some radical changes to the starting line-up compared to the one that took the field against Myanmar last week.

“I need to have players in the line-up who can stand up and compete with stronger players. So I have made up my mind on a few changes and hopefully they work,” he said.

Cambodia’s only win in the campaign came against Afghanistan when Prak Mony odom scored the match winner late in the game at Olympic Stadium.

Jordan and Vietnam jointly head the table with eight points each, and the visitors to Phnom Penh will be keeping an eye on the My Dinh National Stadium in Hanoi where Vietnam face Afghanistan.
Cambodia are third on three points.

The four-team group will complete the stage next march when Jordan take on Vietnam in Amman and Cambodia play Afghanistan at a neutral venue.

So far during the qualifying cycle, Jordan, who are looking for their third consecutive AFC Cup appearance, were held to a goalless draw by Vietnam. Then Afghanistan pulled off a surprise of sorts by holding the Jordanians level at 3-3.

MOST VIEWED

  • Serious flooding across country

    The Kampong Speu provincial Committee for Disaster Management on Wednesday issued an alert after non-stop heavy rain caused widespread flooding. In Koh Kong province, authorities are working with the disaster committee and the Cambodian Red Cross to assist those affected after more than 350 homes were

  • CNRP points to King in call for vote boycott

    Leaders of the former Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) have taken a new tack in their call for a boycott of the national elections later this month. They are now claiming that the people should follow the King, who is expected to abide by tradition

  • Actress’s NGO takes heat for promoting the ruling party

    An actress’s NGO which participated in an election campaign event contrary to the Law on Association and Non-Governmental Organisations (Lango) has been slammed. Chorn Chanleakena, a celebrity and the president of the Association of Artists Volunteering to Help Society, allegedly led its members in

  • Troop moves ‘won’t worry people’

    Senior officials at the Ministry of Defence and National Police said on Tuesday that riot training provided to the country’s police forces were aimed at preventing unexpected demonstrations and strikes before and after the July 29 national elections. The troop mobilisation, they said, would not