Cambodian national football team get themselves ready to depart for the AFF Suzuki Cup qualifiers in Vientiane, Laos tomorrow, let's take a quick look at their opponents who will be aiming to put one over Cambodia and qualify for the Suzuki Cup group stages in December. If we look first at the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Rankings then Cambodia are the third best of the four teams taking part in the qualifying matches. Top of the pile are the Philippines, ranked 165th in the world, followed by hosts Laos at 177th. Cambodia lie one place below at 178th, tied with Dominica, whilst the whipping boys should be Timor Leste who rank 201st. However, FIFA rankings mean little when it comes down to the blood and thunder of the qualifying games. In the 2008 qualifiers held in Phnom Penh, it was Laos and Cambodia who went through, though Philippines are still smarting over missing out by goal difference. This time around they are making waves under new coach Simon McMenemy, only six weeks into the job, and who just beat Macau 5-0 in a 4-team tournament. At 32 he's the youngest international coach in the world and can count an international cap with Brunei before coaching youngsters at some of England's best clubs. Amongst his squad will be Neil Etheridge, the number 2 goalkeeper at Fulham, 2nd Division players from Germany, Holland and Iceland and the Younghusband brothers, who have bags of experience. They will be a tough nut to crack. Laos also have a new man at the helm, former Grimsby and Darlington boss David Booth, who has arrived from Indian club football. He has international experience as coach of Myanmar, so he knows the drill and what's required to qualify, especially as the pressure will be on the host country. Striker Lamnao Singto is their man to watch. Timor Leste are the underdogs, as usual, though their 2-2 draw with Cambodia in 2008 still ranks as their best result in Suzuki Cup history. They too have a new coach in Brazilian Antonio Carlos Viera, who previously led Belize.
Cambodia's matches in the AFF Suzuki Cup qualifying competition are as follows:
22 Oct: Laos v Cambodia 6.30pm
24 Oct: Cambodia v Timor Leste 4pm
26 Oct: Philippines v Cambodia 4pm
You can find out more about the AFF Suzuki Cup here.