Monday, February 14, 2011

20 strong for Macau trip

Cambodia's national team at the airport before their trip to Macau (pic FFC)
The Cambodian national football team flew to Macau via Hong Kong today, in preparation for their AFC Challenge Cup qualifying second leg match on Wednesday. Leading 3-1 from the first leg in Phnom Penh last week, Cambodia are red hot favourites to progress through to the group stage of the cup, which will be played at the end of next month. They showed they have too much in their locker for their opponents, from the special administrative area of China, even though Macau came back strongly in the latter stages of last Wednesday's match. Coach Lee Tae-Hoon has selected a playing squad of 20 to take on Macau, with Srey Veasna (of Loei City in Thailand) the only player who featured in last week's game, not making the trip. The squad is: Mic, Bunchhay, Raksmey, Narith, Tiny, Piseth, Pancharong, T Udom; Sothearath, Sopanha, PM Udom, Soksana, Soun Veasna, Sokngorn, C Rithy; El Nasa, Sokumpheak, Borey, Pheng, Laboravy.

Success for Cambodia will pitch them into Group C of the AFC Challenge Cup alongwith three other teams. Matches will be played between 21-30 March, though the host country has yet to be announced. A look at the FIFA/Coca-Cola world rankings shows that the top team in the group will be the Republic of Tajikistan, rated at 141 in the world. Half of their national team comes from the Tajik League champions Istiqlol Dushanbe, who strolled to the league title in December, completing their domestic season with 26 wins, six draws and no defeats. The same theme applied to the Indian Ocean-based Maldives champions VB Sports, who were undefeated in 21 games to win the Dhiraagu Dhivehi League crown and who will populate the Maldives national team, who are ranked at 160 in the FIFA table. They lie six places above Cambodia, who are at 166. The weakest of the Group C countries on paper will be Kyrgyzstan, at 175, for whom Neftchi Kochkorata are the league champions. Macau stand at 193 in the rankings.
Cambodia line-up before the 1st leg last week against Macau: (Back row LtoR): Piseth, Raksmey, El Nasa, Laboravy, Sopanha, Mic (Front row) PM Udom, Tiny, Sothearath, Narith, Sokumpheak


acceleratedstall said...

Go Team!

Roger said...

How do you fancy our chances if we make it to the group stage, Andy? It's the top 2 who make it to the finals right? If so, I think we're in with a great chance. Tajikstan I think will have first sewn up so it will be a battle for second place.

Maldives are a bit of an unknown. We played them way back in 2001 for the 2002 World Cup Qualifiers and got smashed 6-0 in Maldives but earned a respectable 1-1 draw at home.

Kyrgyzstan we played recently in 2007, losing 4-3 after leading 3-2 at half time.

Andy Brouwer said...

I think we have a great chance of finishing 2nd in the Group stage if we are successful against Macau. I agree with your assessment of the group's best team but we have a real opportunity to come good against the other two teams in the group. But we've got to step up to the mark. I would've liked to have seen the team play with more confidence against Macau in the 1st leg, but as long as we take the game to them and don't try to sit on our lead, we will go through. The former Russian republics will be well organised and fit but without much flair, while Maldives may be all flair and no structure; depends on their current coach and their experience. We need to balance structure with flair but I'm not sure we are well equipped to do both to the required standard at international level. We shall see.