Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Hassanal Bolkiah Trophy tie in the 91st minute. Okay, so we could see it coming after Cambodia went down to host country Brunei the other day in similar circumstances, but seriously, I didn't think the team would actually roll over and be beaten by Timor Leste of all people. The East Timorese have been the SEAsian whipping boys for as long as I can recall. Cambodia popped them 4-1 in the 2009 SEA Games in Laos, I was there for that, and that was after Malaysia thrashed them 11-0. The full national team beat them 4-2 in the 2010 Suzuki Cup, also in Laos. They've definitely improved in recent times, wins over Brunei and Philippines in the recent SEA Games demonstrate that, but still Cambodia should have had enough competitive experience to have put this tie to bed. Cambodia even fluffed a penalty spot-kick. It's quite clear that coach Lee Tae-Hoon has learnt nothing from his well-overdue stint in charge, where conceding late goals (and before that early goals) have been a feature of his reign. How the heck he cannot get his team to shut up shop late in the game is beyond me. Once or twice is unfortunate, but when it happens this often, then the coach is nothing short of derelict in his duty. Perhaps I shouldn't bleat too much as I always said this invitational tournament in Brunei was a waste of everyone's time and energy, and most of all a blatant disruption of the preparation for the Metfone C-League, but to lose to both Brunei and Timor Leste, countries who are 30+ places below Cambodia in the FIFA world rankings, is frankly, an embarrassment. Even the most ardent supporters of Lee Tae-Hoon on the FFC committee, a blind love affair that has baffled most football fans in Cambodia for its longevity despite what can only be described as a dismal set of failures over the past sixteen months, must see that the coach is well past his sell-by date. Personally, I don't believe he can motivate his team, and that's his problem. He doesn't get them to believe in themselves and to go out and die (not literally) for their country. Tactically he's weak and these late goals are a symptom of that. Cambodia have one more game to go, against Malaysia on Monday 5 March, but as qualification after three successive defeats is impossible, it's meaningless, much like the tournament itself. The FFC must act now to relieve the coach of his duties and get an experienced coach into salvage the position and weave some magic before the all important AFF Suzuki Cup qualification games in October.