Cambodia face a stern test away to Iran on Thursday in the third game of the second round of qualifying for the Qatar 2022 Fifa World Cup.
The Angkor Warriors have been drawn in Group C with four other teams from the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) – Iran, Iraq, Bahrain and Hong Kong.
The campaign also serves as the qualifying route to the 2023 AFC Asian Cup finals.
Back in June, the Cambodian national team took on Pakistan in the first round and won 4-1 on aggregate to advance to the second round of qualification.
In the second round, Cambodia have faced Hong Kong and Bahrain, with the match against Hong Kong at Phnom Penh’s Olympic Stadium ending in a highly creditable 1-1 draw.
The Angkor Warriors then lost 1-0 to Bahrain at the same venue, but Cambodia had plenty of support from the vociferous home crowd, with more than 45,000 fans in attendance.
Next up for Cambodia is the toughest test of their campaign, an away trip to Asia’s No1-ranked side Iran.
The match has been somewhat overshadowed by the news that for the first time in decades, women will be allowed to attend the match. For the full story, see page 22.
Sitting at 169th in the Fifa World Rankings, the Warriors will be underdogs on Thursday against 23rd-ranked Iran.
While the Warriors are prepared for what will surely prove a tough match, they will also relish playing against such a highly ranked opponent in Iran.
If they can force an upset, it will disrupt Group C and boost the confidence of the Kingdom’s players and fans alike.
After Iran, Cambodia are set to host Iraq at Phnom Penh’s Olympic Stadium at 6.30pm next Tuesday.
Thursday’s match, which kicks off at 8:30pm Cambodian time, is available to watch via FifaTV on YouTube.