Tuesday, March 15, 2011
The 20-man squad that Cambodia will be taking to the Maldives for the final qualifying group stage of the AFC Challenge Cup has thrown up a couple of shock selections, not least the exclusion of two players who most observers would expect to be in the starting line-up for any of the country's international matches, let alone the three massively important games to be played in less than a week. Cambodia meet Maldives (21 Mar), Tajikistan (23 Mar) and Kyrgyzstan (25 Mar) in Group C of the competition in Male, and I think South Korean coach Lee Tae-Hoon has dropped a massive clanger in not including Phnom Penh Crown's San Narith whilst Sisaket's Khim Borey (pictured) is also missing, and the coach's selection also leaves out Army wideman Phuong Soksana and another Thai-based player, Srey Veasna. Narith has been a versatile midfielder-cum-defensive lynchpin for Cambodia for the last few seasons and is a major surprise to see him cast aside, whilst Borey has recently played his first game for his new Thai Premier Division club and is playing at the highest level of anyone in the Cambodian team. Of course, having just joined a new team puts pressure on Borey to stay and fight for his place in his club's starting line-up but the striker is one of those players who would do everything in his power to play for his country, so I'd like to hear Tae-Hoon's take on it. Soksana has proved to be a good impact player on occasions and Veasna too, had a great season for Phnom Penh Crown last term before his move to Thailand. Instead, Lee Tae-Hoon has picked inexperienced players at this level of competition such as Touch Panhcharong, Chhin Chhoeurn, Thong Udom, Suon Veasna, Sok Pheng and others, in what could be seen as the country's most important series of matches this year. In the local press the coach has been bemoaning his squad's lack of preparation because of the Hun Sen Cup competition which has just ended, and yet on the other hand he's dispensed with the services of San Narith, who is fresh and raring to go after Crown's quarter-final exit from the cup. The full squad is: Ouk Mic, Peng Bunchhay, Pheak Rady, Lay Raksmey, Tieng Tiny, Touch Panhcharong, Say Piseth, Thong Udom, Sok Rithy; Keo Sokngorn, Khuon Laboravy, Chhin Chhoeurn, Chan Rithy, Chhun Sothearath, Prak Mony Udom, Sun Sopanha, Suon Veasna; Kouch Sokumpheak, Sam El Nasa, Sok Pheng.