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National team gains maturity

National team gains maturity


Coach O’Donell has called up four experienced national team players to give strength to his young squad ahead of Saturday’s friendly against a Korean side


Naga Corp captain and centre back Om Thavarak has been called up to the national team for the friendly Saturday.
Phnom Penh Crown legendary winger Chan Rithy will once again make an appearance for the national team Saturday.

Cambodian national team squad list

Side to face Korea’s Ulsan University 3pm Saturday at Olympic Stadium
Goalkeepers
Sou Yaty, Samreth Seiha (Ministry of National Defence) Defenders
Lay Raksmey, Sok Rithy (Preah Khan Reach)
Pheak Rady (MND)
Tieng Tiny (Phnom Penh Crown)
Om Thavrak, Kim Chanbunrith, Sun Sovannarith (Naga Corp)
Midfielders Prak Mony Udom, San Narith (PKR)
Nov Soseila, Um Kompheak (MND)
Chhun Sothearath (Build Bright United)
Pok Chanthan (Naga Corp)
Forwards
Chan Chhaya, Keo Sokngorn, Chan Rithy (PPC)
Kuoch Sokumpheak (Khemara Keila)
Khim Borey (MND)

Cambodia’s national team coach Scott O’Donell has bolstered the U23 team that participated in the recent SEA Games with some experienced faces for Saturday’s first international match of the new year. The full national team face an unknown quantity in touring South Korean collegiate team Ulsan University at 3pm Saturday at Olympic Stadium. Returning to the international fold are the Naga Corp trio of Om Thavarak, Kim Chanbunrith and Pok Chanthan, as well as Phnom Penh Crown’s tricky left winger Chan Rithy.

O’Donell has had his squad in training for the past four days at the National Football Center on the outskirts of the capital for this one-off game. “I wanted to retain the core of the Under-23 team from the SEA Games, as in my opinion they performed well for me over the last three to four months, both in training and in the Games,” he stated. “I’ve added a few senior players who’ve played with me before, and who are players I believe can add valuable experience, on and off the field. However, this is by no means the final squad for the national team.”

The coach added that the focus this year will be on the full national team, with World Cup and Suzuki Cup qualifiers in October. “I’ve put a proposal to the Federation to get the players together more regularly for training and more regular international matches as well,” he revealed.

For the game against Ulsan University, who are preparing for their league to begin again at the end of February, O’Donell’s preparation will not differ from the norm. “I will approach this game as I do every other game,” he assured. “There’s no such thing as friendly games. We go out there to win, win everything, try to be competitive, and I want the players to go out there and perform.

“This is a good chance for them to show the Cambodian public what they are capable of. We want to do well, and we want to win the game.”

The Australian-born tactician admitted to knowing “nothing at all” about Saturday’s opposition, but he said he realised it was a good opportunity to get the national team together.

It “will be a good experience to play against a South Korean team, as they are normally well organised and bigger players than our own. I will play the same formation, 4-4-2, as I have before.”

All of the Cambodian players have been involved in their domestic club’s Samdech Hun Sen Cup preliminary matches in recent weeks, which O’Donell viewed as a real positive for his future plans.

“My coaching staff will be at all the future Hun Sen Cup games to identify new talent; that’s one of the beauties of the competition,” he said. “There are some teams we’ve never seen before, and we hope there are some good young, raw players. If they show the right ability, we can bring them into the national setup for training. I’ve already seen some games in the provinces, at Svay Rieng and Kep. Whilst I’m very supportive of having foreign players in the CPL, I think it’s a good idea for the Hun Sen Cup to give only locals a chance against the provincial teams, and let the teams show what they’re capable of without the foreign players involved.”

Photos by Nick Sells (www.nicksellsphotography.com)

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