A month into his tenure as Phnom Penh Crown's new head coach, Bojan Hodak sat down to share his thoughts on how his charges are shaping up.
Q. How useful are the practice games?
"These first few practice games are more for me to judge the players. It means I can see the players perform under pressure. Some players are training players, they can be amazing in training but when it comes to matchday, they are nowhere to be seen. This can be a mental problem or because in training they are allowed time and space. That's why these few games are really for my benefit. When I decide on my first XI, the rest of the practice games will help them to reach their peak at the right time.
"We will continue with these matches but we are discussing going to either Thailand or Vietnam to play a few friendly games as well because games there will be tough, and playing against better players will improve our players. This will be in the second half of this month. We are expecting the Hun Sen Cup to start around 8/9 January."
Q. Have you seen any difference in your month in charge?
"You cannot expect to see a huge difference because it's a short time but I think the players can see a difference from the first match until now, especially physically speaking. In that first game we lost every tackle and we couldn't run. Technically, we are now passing the ball much better, so we are improving, we are better than before, but tactically we are bad. In particular, we need to improve our finishing and our final pass. We are really poor, for example, in the final third where our creativity is zero. In the games so far, our chances were created individually, not as a team. In the last match, this was much better but our finishing was horrible. This is where we need to improve a lot. Defensively we need to get better as well, defending set pieces for example, these are tactical things which I must work on.
"Individually, I will explain their mistakes. For the strikers, the most common mistake with all players is when they are in the penalty box. They are trying to kill the goalkeeper instead of just placing the ball in the net. Most times in the penalty area you just need to place the ball. One-on-one we try to hit it as hard as we can."
Q. What are your thoughts on the Cambodian national team's schedule of games?
"I gave our players to the national team for a week as a sign of goodwill. But I also need them to prepare for the Hun Sen Cup. If they wish to have national games, they need to plan in advance and have a break in the league program. I want as many of my players in the national team as possible. I respect the national team, but it must be thought through in advance."
Q. How are you and your family settling in?
"We're settling in fine. I'm driving around, exploring every day. It's not a problem as Phnom Penh is ten times smaller than Kuala Lumpur. You can get everywhere quite quickly. First impression was that everyone was driving so slow, but you get used to it and because of this, there aren't any bad accidents. We have our place (in Tuol Kork), my wife and son are fine. So far so good.