Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Sochetra's Thirty

Cambodia coach Hok Sochetra (right) with his assistant Meas Channa
Time to spill the beans on the Cambodian national team. New coach Hok Sochetra will begin his preparations for October's AFF Suzuki Cup Qualifiers tomorrow morning at 7am when he calls a thirty-strong squad of players together for their first training session. The players who he has listed, and who he hasn't listed, will be of intense interest to the footballing public, who appear to be split down the middle over Sochetra's appointment as head coach; between those who are invigorated by the arrival of the country's best-ever goalscoring striker as the new man in charge, and those who were looking for someone with a proven track record. His first squad of thirty players, which will be whittled down to twenty for the actual competition, will begin their familiarization sessions tomorrow and will meet three times per week until September, when two training camps, at home and abroad, are planned. So who is in the frame you ask? First of all let me mention one name which doesn't make the thirty notified to all the C-League teams last weekend. Khuon Laboravy, the Preah Khan Reach striker who has rattled in the goals for the last couple of seasons but who has been on the sidelines with injury this term, is omitted. That will come as a shock to most, as Laboravy's pace and talents are not in dispute, though he's still coming back to match fitness after his lay-off. Another noticeable absentee is arguably the country's best player, Kouch Sokumpheak but his knee ligament injury sustained last week whilst playing for Phnom Penh Crown will rule him out of football for the foreseeable future.

Now, let's look at those selected. Sochetra has named four goalkeepers and the surprise amongst them is Naga's Phorn Ratana, especially after his glaring error at the weekend. Defensively, the Army will supply Khek Khemarin and Ke Vannak, whilst old-hand Tieng Tiny is included alongside his Crown teammate Sok Sovan. Naga's Om Thavrak is also in despite playing sparingly this season. One surprising omission is PKR's leggy centre-back Moul Daravorn. The squad is packed solid with midfield options and another old stager that Sochetra has included is Naga's Teab Vathanak, who has been playing a midfield role for his club side this season, as well as his teammate Sun Sopanha. As expected, National Police's Tith Dina and Crown's Sos Suhana are in, alongwith Pov Phearith of the Army, just three of the U-22 squad members who have booked a spot in the senior squad. Players who can double-up in more than one position include BBU's Prum Puthsethy and PKR's Tum Saray, as can Keo Sokngorn from Boeung Ket. Up front, Sok Pheng (Crown), Srey Udom (Police) and Chuon Chum, Naga's and the C-League's leading scorer, also come into the reckoning. And one name that will please many national team fans after his exploits in previous years in a Cambodia shirt is Khim Borey, back from the wilderness imposed by the previous head coach. Army supply the most players with seven of their team included. There are no overseas players, though one or two might come into the picture when the Khmer-Europe team come here in September for a few games. Also, there are still quite a few Metfone C-League matches to play over the next few weeks, so one or two faces might yet force their way into Sochetra's plans between now and the qualifiers in early October in Myanmar.

The 30-strong squad invited to begin training tomorrow are:
Goalkeepers; Sou Yaty, Um Vichet (Army), Sar Sophea (PKR), Phorn Ratana (Naga).
Defenders: Sok Sovan, Tieng Tiny (PPCFC), Om Thavrak (Naga), Say Piseth (Police), Lay Raksmey, Nen Sothearoth (PKR), Khek Khemarin, Ke Vannak (Army), Khiev Vibol, Touch Pancharong (Boeung Ket).
Midfielders: Sos Suhana (PPCFC), Sun Sopanha, Teab Vathanak (Naga), Tith Dina (Police), Suon Veasna, Tum Saray (PKR), Prum Puthsethy, Chhun Sothearath (BBU), Pov Phearith (Army).
Forwards: Khim Borey, Sok Pheng (PPCFC), Chuon Chum (Naga), Srey Udom (Police), Chhin Chhoeun, Phuong Soksana (Army), Keo Sokngorn (Boeung Ket).


Anonymous said...

No Ravy? Probably the best player and best outfield player in Cambodia. A player who can win games for you and proven goal scorer.Showed his worth with a goal on Saturday (or did the new coach miss that one - he arrived late! After an injury layoff Khoun Laboravy is now back to his pacy attacking best for PKR marauding down the left. An extraordinary decision! There must be a mistake! or mischief afoot!

Andy Brouwer said...

Anon, this is what Hok Sochetra said to the press upon his appointment:
“I love every player, I don’t have any favourite player, so I’ll choose based on their competence on the field and also their discipline.
“Some players are good in playing but not good at living with other team-mates, so I will not choose them. Some fans accuse the national team when they lose because they love the team so much. But they must also know the standard of our side."
Presumably Khuon Laboravy must come under the bit where he said they are good but don't mix well.
I think he's dropped the ball on that one for starters.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Andy. I must have forgotten the coach's selection criteria! Unbelievable decision, Ravy is one of 3 or 4 Cambodian players who could/should play abroard. When the Cambodiian team is crying out for quality players, and languishing at the rear end of the FIFA rankings, the coach leaves the best player out of the squad. Extraordinary!