Thursday, April 14, 2011
A pin drop
It's all gone deathly quiet at the Cambodian football federation this month. I can hear a pin drop as far as the just released FIFA/Coca-Cola World Rankings are concerned. It was only a few weeks ago that the FFC were jumping up and down and shouting from the rooftops that the Cambodian national team had moved to an all-time highest ranking of 154th and the national coach, Lee Tae-Hoon even suggested that they were seeking to break into the top 100. Get real coach. The abject failure to get through the AFC Challenge Cup group matches played in the Maldives has seen Cambodia sink back down to 169th, that's a fall of 15 places in a month. The three teams that inflicted defeats on us, Maldives, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, have all shot up the rankings table, leaving Cambodia just six places ahead of their next opponents, Laos. The next big test for Cambodia, and they need to succeed or face a ruinous stint under the leadership of the South Korean coach, will be in the 1st qualifying round of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, with the two legs to be played in Phnom Penh on 29 June, and in Vientiane on 3 July. The carrot of meeting China in the next round will certainly focus the intentions of both teams, who played out a goal-less draw in the Suzuki Cup in Vientiane in October last year, when they last met. The national coach has already called for a heavy training programme ahead of the two legs, following the Khmer New Year break this week, though he seems to forget that all of the Metfone C-League teams have another seven league games to fit in during the next two months, before the mid-season break kicks-in in mid June. So his training time with the squad members will be pretty limited and he'll have to seek the goodwill of the club coaches to ensure that his strict training regime doesn't interfere with the league programme. In addition, he would be well advised to get on the phone to Khim Borey in Sisaket, as well as on bended knee, to secure the services of the striker who is playing at the highest level of football of any current Cambodian player. And he can add Phnom Penh Crown utility player San Narith to his wish-list as well. To make certain of that win against Laos, they will need their strongest line-up.