The Cambodia national futsal team will fly to Bangkok on Sunday ahead of participation at the ASEAN Zone qualification tournament for the 2012 AFC Futsal Championship.
Cambodia have been bracketed in Group B alongside Australia, Vietnam and Malaysia, while hosts Thailand are in Group A with Indonesia, the Philippines and Myanmar.
Cambodia will meet Australia on Tuesday at the Kiraves Indoor Stadium before facing Vietnam and Malaysia in the following days.
Goalkeeper Kongvong Sovichea, Dieb Sokmeng, Vann Sokrethya, Soun Thorn and Tep Vannaro featured in the Cambodian squad which travelled to Indonesia in 2010 for the previous qualifier, while keeper Chum Sophorn, Tep Sovanpiseth, Sok Seyha, Eung Slauth, Prom Yaneth and Phang Sunly will make their debut.
Reserve team players Ouk Rasin, You Oror and Sok Sor were given a last minute call-up after their more favoured colleagues Ket Dara, Meas Panha and I Sothearith were refused registration by the AFC due to administrative issues.
The national team began training for the region’s most prestigious futsal tournament last October.
After head coach Hok Socheatra resigned from his post two months ago to concentrate on completing an official FIFA A-Licence coaching course, his older brother and assistant coach Hok Sothitya stepped up to lead the side.
Hok Sothitya, former Cambodian football international and skipper of the futsal team, said his players has no major concerns in regards to fitness and mentality.
“Sure we will see a difference before and during the match, but we also try to push them to maintain good commitment and confidence every time,” he said.
For the new head coach, Vietnam are the most feared opponents in the group while Australia and Malaysia will also pose a significant challenge.
“Futsal is not like football. In futsal, players have to be careful every second. They can be strikers and also defenders,” he added.
Cambodia are making their fourth appearance at the qualifiers having failed to advance in 2004, 2006 and 2010.
The top two teams of each group will play criss-cross semifinals before a final and third-place playoff.
The top three finishers will book their places at the 2012 AFC Futsal Championship in United Arab Emirates in May, which will in turn find Asia’s representatives for the FIFA Futsal World Cup in Bangkok in November.
Iran have dominated the AFC Futsal Championships, winning ten of the 11 editions held to date, while Japan grabbed a solitary crown in 2006.
Thailand are the top ranked ASEAN nation, finishing as runners up in 2008 and third on four separate occasions.