David Booth said to the players in their mid-day pre-match team meeting yesterday. These aren't trade secrets but part of the motivation that the English coach has used successfully since he came to manage the Crown team in July. I've picked out just a few of his comments.
"We have to play differently from how we play in the Cambodian League, this is international competition and we have to step up to that level... We mustn't allow them to play, we must fight them, fight for everything, we cannot let them control the game... They are not special at all, they make mistakes and they can be beaten. I know we can play quick and hurt them. When we have the ball, everyone must move forwards as a team. Don't slow the game down. We have a big advantage - the speed in our team. With this we can succeed... You don't get chances like this too often... but in the few months that I've been here, I've seen something in you. You've always performed for me. I have a high regard for the work you've put in. You are special because you know you are trying to get better. Sometimes talking is as important as training and fitness - what goes on in your head is important too. If we can think and play at the same time, we will have the advantage over others... If you get your mind right, you can beat this team. We can pass better than this team, we have more speed, we have more movement and we have better discipline. We have 1 chance only... work for the team, play for the team, support each other... I want you to go back to Cambodia and let everyone understand what we have done. It's time to go back to Cambodia and hold you head up high."
The players responded and performed to a level that was good enough to beat an experienced eastern European team like Neftchi, and with something in reserve. Sun Sopanha said after the game; "we never do this before, we never beat a team like this, we always lose but now we can win. I've never known this from a Cambodian team. It makes me so proud." At today's twenty minute mid-day team meeting, the head coach continued. "Last night you proved you can play at this level and win at this level. It was a true team performance. You beat the favourites for the competition... In the 9 games in the Cambodian League, you did what I asked you to do. Against the national team in two matches you did the same. Yesterday, you raised your standard and did exactly what I asked you to do... I think you can do more. I saw in you the pride, the determination, the winning mentality... I want you to show that you can move up the next level; work for the team, work for each other and work together."