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Cambodia must beat East Timor ahead of Indian qualifying matches, says Honda

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Cambodia’s National Football team general manager Keisuke Honda speaks at a press conference ahead of an international friendly match against East Timor on June 2. CAMSOC

Cambodia must beat East Timor ahead of Indian qualifying matches, says Honda

Cambodia National Football team general manager Keisuke Honda insisted that his side must claim a win when they meet East Timor in their June 2 international friendly match, which kicks off at 7pm at Morodok Techo National Stadium. The head coach of the visiting side also looked forward to testing the quality of his team on their return to Phnom Penh.

Prior to their recent defeat at the 31st SEA Games in Vietnam, Cambodia’s U23 team famously lost 1-0 to East Timor when the Kingdom hosted the ASEAN Football Federation’s U23 Championship in 2022. An own goal by Sar Ty in the 18th minute – at the same stadium – extinguished the home side’s chance of escaping from the group stages.

Honda admitted that the rematch would not be easy, but the Japanese man claimed that it was a must win. This was an important opportunity for the Kingdom to strengthen their build up, ahead of the AFC Asian Cup qualifiers in India, which start on June 8.

“We have vital matches coming up in India, so the East Timor game will be good preparation. Of course we also remember that we lot to them in the AFF U23 championship, so this is a great chance to erase a painful memory!” he told a June 1 news conference.

Honda added: “A meeting with East Timor is never an easy match because they are a side with a lot of talented players. Although they are not necessarily the biggest or the strongest, they are highly technical. We will have to be careful going into the match, and it will test the abilities of our players as they get ready for India.”

Asked if the Cambodian team would continue to focus on gaining experience and developing players, Honda replied: In the past, we have tried to win but have been unlucky, so we have not won major events like the SEA Games.”

“However, I am always thinking about how to help the team win. I also need to give our young players a chance to get experience, so hopefully I can find the balance between them and do both. We have to think about the future of Cambodian football, which isn’t easy. We need to beat East Timor and then we will shift our focus to the AFC Cup qualifying rounds. We will try our best to make the finals,” he added.

East Timor coach Fábio Joaquim Maciel da Silva also wants to use the game to strengthen his squad.

“I’m happy to be back in Cambodia again. I think this match will be tough, as both teams are fairly evenly matched. It will certainly be attractive for the fans and I expect to see many good things come from this match,” he said.

The Brazilian coach added: “We do not have any more qualifying matches, so this will be a good opportunity for our young players to refine their technique and strengthen their skills – as well as strengthen their spirits! In both domestic and away matches, we do not attract as big of a crowd as Cambodia, so playing here will help our guys adapt to the intensity of a large international match.”

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