After a disappointing campaign in the recently concluded SEA Games by the Kingdom’s U22 squad, national coach Leonardo Vittorino will be hoping to restore some pride today when the senior outfit line up against Vietnam in their AFC Asia Cup 2019 qualifying Group C encounter at the Olympic Stadium, which is set for a 6:30pm kick-off.
The return clash will be held in Hanoi on October 10.
A youthful but inexperienced Cambodia side lost all their five matches in Kuala Lumpur, including a 4-1 drubbing by Vietnam. But as frustrating as that particular performance was, the Brazilian coach, now into his seventh month at the helm, is stressing the need to approach this match in a positive frame of mind.
The return to the team of stalwarts like Chan Vathanaka and Prak Mony Odom, who along with other experienced players had crossed the age threshold for the Games, has bolstered the confidence in the Cambodian camp.
While conceding the fact that Vietnam are decidedly stronger on paper and track record compared to his side, Vittorino expressed confidence at a joint news conference with his Vietnamese counterpart Mai Duc Chung yesterday that his players will be up for the challenge.
After Cambodia’s 7-0 drubbing in the season opener at the hands of Jordan in Aman on March 28, a 1-0 win over Afghanistan at home on June 13 came as a huge a relief for the coach, on whom pressure was mounting to turn around three defeats in a row.
Cambodia currently occupy second slot in the group behind Jordan, who were held to a goalless draw by Vietnam in Ho Chi Minh City on the same day Cambodia pulled off their famous win over the Afghans.
In their group opener against Afghanistan, played at a neutral venue in Dushambe, Turkmenistan, Vietnam could only manage a 1-1 draw.
Interim coach Mai Duc Chung said Vietnam had a healthy respect for their Cambodian opposition but that they looked forward to their first win in three games.