Wednesday, October 27, 2010


So close and yet so far, is the story of Cambodia's AFF Suzuki Cup qualification campaign that has just run its course in Vientiane in Laos. After the three matches played by the four teams, Laos, Philippines and Cambodia all finished the qualifiers with five points each but the Laotians (8 goals for-3 goals against) finished first by virtue of scoring one goal more than the Filipinos (7-2). Cambodia finished third on goal difference (4-2) and miss out on the group stage. In early December Laos will face hosts Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia in Group A in Jakarta, while Philippines will meet defending champions Vietnam, Singapore and Myanmar in Group B in Hanoi. Meanwhile, Cambodia will be licking their wounds back in Phnom Penh. Their next action is not until they lock horns with Macau in the AFC Challenge Cup qualification round, home and away on 9 and 16 February 2011. Missing out on the group stages of the Suzuki Cup will be a big blow for new coach, South Korean Lee Tae-Hoon (pictured) and his squad. They spent more than a month together in Vietnam in preparation after the coach finally arrived towards the end of August. In fact it was a similar story for the two teams that did make it through, with both Laos (David Booth) and Philippines (Simon McMenemy) both taking new coaches on board just before this week's qualifiers.
A failure to find the target in phases of play when they were on top against both Laos and especially the Philippines, as well as not scoring enough goals past the whipping boys of the group, Timor Leste, are the obvious reasons why Cambodia are not progressing. Despite a Khim Borey hat-trick in 14 minutes against Timor, they didn't press home their advantage enough in that game, and it has cost them dearly. I will be interested to hear why the coach changed the formation for the final game, moving Borey back into a withdrawn midfield role (even though his nose for a goal had been heightened with his Timor hat-trick) and switching Kuoch Sokumpheak into attack, as the switch didn't work. I was not convinced either by repeated insistence that Tum Saray should be the man to change things from the bench in each of the three games, when more dynamic players were left back in Phnom Penh and not selected to travel.
Speaking to the official competition website after the match ended, Lee Tae-Hoon said; "I know that my players have tried their best and they are developing step by step. We have a number of young players here and we will learn for our weaknesses and try to improve the next time." The coach, who is on a one-year contract, will have ample time to select a squad of his own choosing for the two Challenge Cup qualifiers against Macau in February, though the C-League won't start until after that, so his selected players will only have their pre-season training and maybe the odd Hun Sen Cup game under their belt to sharpen their fitness. The importance of the Macau fixtures for Cambodia's national team in 2011 and beyond cannot be overstated. They are must win matches. Added to that there are World Cup qualifying matches coming up in the middle of the year, which will also determine the future picture of the country's international football programme. Tough challenges ahead for Lee Tae-Hoon and he's got to get it right.


Rick said...

Watched the match yesterday. It was astounding how Cambodia failed to score simple chances. Maybe they didn't practice enough shooting on goal.
But seeing that their practice games against lower opposition in the run-up to going to Vientiane didn't go their way, one would have to conclude that the coach underperformed: poor selection tactics not paying off.

Anonymous said...

Hi Andy,

I am very very sad to see our national squad can't advance to the final round.

For me i would blame on the poor selection of players in the national squad. It seems like the South Korean head coach relied too much on the assistants who didn't equip well enough experience.

The disqualification is also resulted from the FFC who appointed assistants based on just the relationship and network not on the performance.

For me i would suggest FFC to appoint some club's coach who lead the club very well to the position of assistant coach. For example like Meas Samorn (BBU's coach), Ministry of defence coach, Be Makara (Phnom Penh Crown Manager), etc. no one else understand the player better than the coach and the manager of the club.

Because i notice that it is not the coach alone who can select the good players for Cambodia but at the same time assistant coach play a very important role in the success of Cambodian football.

I hope that FFC president would make some changes on this point. i think we can beat Laos and Philippine if we select the best players. why i said like that? because we have a professional league and a lot of players can play very well.

Some talent and experience players like Sun Sovannarith, Om Thavrak and Tep Vathanak have been forgotten. It was a big loss in fact i don't have any interest in the Naga's club and also don't have any relationship with those players in Naga but i do believe in their ability. If in the competition we have there 3 players and other experience players like Srey Veasna who play a very lively wing, Chan Rithy, Pok Chanthan etc.......

Some recomendation for coach:

1) Not to change player's position: it would be hard for the coach to be successful if they try to change player's position that completely different from the role that they usually play in the club.
2) Should eliminate some strikers who have lower performance not select too much strikers and focus more on Winger and Midfielder. We can't use the strikers as midfielders and Defender as Midfielders. (completely wrong action)

3) Select the experience players we can't just use all the young players in the national squad (no country do like us). We can just use some outstanding young players to combine with experience players.
4) Select club's coach (or manager) as the assistant of head coach.
5) Select more players from the other club not just focus on some players in the big club. i think some players in the lower ranking clubs can players even better than in the big club like in Prek Pra, Wat Phnom, Khemera, Kirivong, etc.

For me first 11 players line up would be:
Strikers: Tep Vathanak and Nuth Sinoun (Keo Sokngorn, Khoem Borei etc.)
Midfielder: Srey Veasna (Zana, Ravy, Suong Virak), Chhun Sothearath (Pok Chanthan, etc), Sun Sopanha (pls advise further....), Chan Rithy (Thailand)(Touch Sokheng, etc.)

Defender: San Narith (Pheak Rady, youngster number 30 play for PP Crown), Om Thavrak (pls advise further), Tieng Tiny (Sok Rithy), Sun Sovannarith (Chan Darasokha, Layraksmey)

Goal Keeper: should be
Hem Symay (Samreth Seiha and Ouk Mic)

I think for Symay, Om Thavrak, San Narith, Sun Sovanarith and some other players can't be removed.


Andy Brouwer said...

Speaking to the AFF Suzuki Cup official website after the end of the tournamenet, Cambodia's South Korean coach, Lee Tae-Hoon, had this to say.

"I know that my players have tried their best. We recognise that there are weaknesses in our squad and we will try to learn from those weaknesses and improve."

"I have been with the team for only two months and I have only had a month of serious training with them so we have to take things step by step. We may not have qualified this time but we have young players and I feel that we are slowly improving."