Thursday, October 4, 2012

Tough proposition for Cambodia

The Cambodian national team will be expected to win when they meet Timor Leste in the opening match of the AFF Suzuki Cup Qualifying Group tomorrow afternoon at the Thuwunna Youth Training Center in Yangon, Myanmar. Past results point towards a Cambodian success, even though Timor Leste's only draw in their Suzuki Cup history came against Cambodia, 2-2 in 2008. However, they will be buoyed by a 1-0 win over Cambodia's U-21s in a cup competition in Brunei a few months ago and under recent arrival, Brazilian coach Emerson Alcantara and their squad of overseas imports from Brazil, Thailand and Indonesia mixed with local players, they will be out to pull off a shock result, undermining their FIFA ranking of 206, compared to Cambodia's 189. I take Cambodia to win by the odd goal.
Cambodia, with four games in seven days, will meet a much tougher proposition in Laos on Sunday. Still smarting from that World Cup debacle under previous coach Lee Tae-Hoon, when Cambodia went down 8-6 over two legs, the Khmers will be out for revenge but Laos are no dummies, having qualified for the final round in 2010, when the two teams fought out a goal-less draw in the Suzuki Cup that year. Laos are coached by Japanese tactician Kokichi Kimara and recently defeated Philippines 2-1 in a friendly, with five players in their squad plying their trade in Thailand. With Laos sitting below Cambodia in the rankings at 193, I believe the match will be a draw, at one goal apiece.
Third game up for Cambodia will be Brunei on Tuesday. South Korea's Kwon Oh-son is their coach, in charge of a squad of all home-based players, who were bolstered by their Hassanal Bolkiah U-21 Cup win on home soil earlier this year. Just back from an international ban, Brunei last played Cambodia in 2008, losing 2-1. They are 203rd in the rankings and I tend to go for another draw, 0-0, when the teams meet on Tuesday. I'm very concerned about Cambodia's lack of firepower and the absence of enough quality warm-up games leading up to this do or die qualifying competition.
Their final match, with Cambodia taking on the host team Myanmar a week today, should be a predictable two-goal win for the Burmese. Or will it? Without their talismanic striker Yan Paing out injured, Myanmar under another South Korean coach, Park Sung-hwa, may find goals hard to come by, though a recent 1-1 draw with Singapore showed their strength. Home advantage will count for a lot and with Myanmar ranked the best of the five teams at 184, everyone expects them to progress. So do I and I believe they'll be joined by Laos, with Cambodia finishing in third place. It's important for new coach Hok Sochetra that his Cambodian team put up a good performance, with more offensive tactics deployed against Timor and Brunei, looking for wins, whilst adopting a more cautious approach against Laos and Myanmar. There's no point in being gung-ho in their approach, as even at this level, teams are disciplined enough to make you pay, but Timor and Brunei are winnable matches, if the team believes in itself, and its coach.


Anonymous said...

I wish the squad success and qualify for the final draw. However, I have to agree with you that they'll finish third behind the host and Laos. My fear is a poor performance against Brunei and Timor. Already, the attitude of Mr. Hok taking these two teams lightly when he said Brunei and Timor seemed to be "not a problem" has given the oppositions the added fire to fuel a victory against Cambodia. On paper, even these two lower ranked teams look stronger than Cambodia with imports from Brazil, Indonesia, Thailand, and players plying their trade in the Singapore league. Cambodia could use the same strategy of employing players of Cambodian origin abroad such as Davy Armstrong of the Colorado Rapids, Pegenburg, and the kid in down under. No offense to our local players. I think the more the merrier when it comes to competition for a spot in the national team. Your take? One other unrelated question, what happened to the Crown academy kid who when to Vietnam for some sort of talent assessment a couple months ago? Thanks.

Fan in the US

Andy Brouwer said...

I certainly have no objection to the national team using Khmers who qualify by birthright, as long as they are better than the local players. There is a high cost implication in using overseas Khmers and that may be the reason why we haven't seen any as yet. Nations like the Philippines have used this to very good effect in the past couple of years.
The two PPCFC Academy players went to Vietnam and did well, but did not make the final 2 boys who will go to further their dream with ASPIRE. But it was great experience for them both.
Thanks for asking.