Sunday, June 12, 2011
Who dreams these fixtures up? On Thursday 23 June, six days before their massively-important FIFA World Cup 1st qualifying match at home to Laos, the Cambodian national team will reportedly meet the Kien Giang provincial U-23 team. So instead of arranging a series of tough matches against worthwhile opposition in the form of neighbouring Asian countries such as Indonesia, Singapore or even Malaysia, and I mean their senior teams not their U-23 sides, the FFC have defaulted to their friends just over the border and invited a provincial team from the Mekong Delta province of Kien Giang to send over an U-23 team. It doesn't really make much sense as the Vietnamese clubs are having a break right now and it would be more likely that the opponents will be Kienlongbank Kien Giang, who won the 2nd Division title last June and who are now 3rd in Division 1 of the Vietnam League (the league below the V-League). Even so, whoever it is, this really is scraping the barrel type preparation for the national team ahead of their World Cup double-header but it goes hand in hand with the simple fact that the South Korean Coach of the Cambodian team, Lee Tae-Hoon, couldn't give two hoots for the World Cup. He will tell anyone who asks him that his focus is on the SEA Games in November. Beating Laos and going onto meet China in the World Cup doesn't interest him. In fact the Laos matches are just in the way of his U-23 preparation. I really am struggling to get my head around his thinking. In my simplistic view we should be busting a gut to not only beat Laos and make a splash in the World Cup but also look to the future and build our best team ahead of the SEA Games, which is an U-23 competition. It is not for senior international sides. Whatever the focus, a game against a team from Kien Giang in full view of the Phnom Penh public, isn't something that will get mine or anyone's juices flowing. The FFC appear to have a very dismissive view of the senior Cambodian national team. It is almost like they are an irritation. Instead of focusing on World Cup qualification, their concentration instead is at U-23 level with the BIDC Cup competition being re-introduced this October, ahead of the SEA Games in Indonesia the following month. They did something very similar in 2009. Literally paying scant lip service to the senior team and instead throwing all of their eggs into the U-23 basket. How a country's football federation and national coach can treat their senior national team with such contempt is beyond me.