The U14 girls’ teams of China (red) and Taiwan (blue) play at Thang Long Stadium in Ho Chi Minh City on Monday during the AFC Festival of Football. Photo Supplied
Cambodia’s U14 girls’ team returned home loaded with bags of experience and some memorable accolades after making an impressive debut in the AFC Festival of Football, which ended in Ho Chi Minh City on Tuesday.
In the last two days of the festival, the side lost 3-0 to the Philippines and 3-1 to Guam in 60-minute contests. The Cambodian girls held their ground admirably against the Filipinos for most of the first half before conceding two quick goals.
They then restricted their opponents to just one more strike in the second sess-ion while threatening to score themselves on a couple of occasions.
In the game against Guam, Cambodia tried to buckle down after taking an early lead but couldn’t prevent the Pacific islanders coming back strongly.
As Guam went 2-1 up, Cambodia had numerous chances to restore parity, but midfielder Huot Kim Hong’s shot flashed just wide and two further breakaways were squandered.
“With a bit of luck, we could have done a lot better in both those games,” team coach Sam Schweingruber told the Post on Tuesday.
“Overall, I am very happy with the outcome. The festival format required every player to get playing time. In that sense, every player got useful experience.
“We scored a good win against Vietnam [2-1 last Saturday], and this experience will go a long way to bolstering women’s football in Cambodia.”
Schweingruber also marked out the performance of the U13 boys’ team that took part in a similar festival in Malaysia.
“The girls managed to win a match, while the boys returned without a win. It is a very encouraging result [for the girls],” he said.
The mood of the entire team was summed up nicely by striker Hean Somalen. “Maybe other girls in Cambodia didn’t want to play before. Now that we have come to Vietnam, they may want to try also,” she said.
The next step for some members of this team is an eight-week programme in July at the second annual SALT Academy Summer School in Battambang for promising female athletes. The course offers more than 20 girls, predominantly from Battambang province, extra tutoring in English, computers and school subjects they are weak in, as well as football training with experienced players and coaches.
Cambodian U14 Girls’ Squad
Tim Somary – Battambang
Khan Saory – Battambang
Chan Srey Neat – Phnom Penh
Koerm Kanha – Battambang
Theourn Mom – Battambang
Pheap Sophea – Battambang
Vun Saoya – Battambang
Leang Srey Pov – Battambang
Sim Sambath – Battambang
Kan Sokry – Kampong Chhnang
Yorm Chanthea – Battambang
Huot Kim Hong – Battambang
Lout Ly – Battambang
Choeuk Kev – Battambang
Thoeurng Samneang – Battambang
Sin Sokmnea – Pursat
Nou Sokieng – Battambang
Hean Somalen – Kampong Chhnang
Un Marina – Pursat
Song Channa – Phnom Penh
To Somne – Battambang
Chhin Sophearvy – Battambang