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Monday, January 7, 2013
Work in progress
Bin Thierry before his Cambodia debut against Ulsan University
There has long been clamouring by Cambodian football fans that they wanted to see overseas Cambodians given the opportunity to play for the national team. There was a general consensus that they must be better than home-based players, simply because they played abroad, which isn't necessarily the case of course. Under new head coach Prak Sovannara that dream has become a reality for three players in the two recent friendly matches against Ulsan University. So how did they fare? Not too well, if Sovannara's substitutions are anything to measure them by. I've yet to ask the coach what his thoughts are but let's look at the two matches and see for ourselves. PPCFC's Bin Thierry was selected as the lone striker in the first friendly match on Friday. Firstly, it's not a position that suits his style of play, in addition, he was just back to full-time training after injury, so he looked short of match practice, and was starved of the ball, and found himself being replaced at the half-time interval. Not exactly an auspicious start for the French-Khmer player, who was as proud as punch to be selected to represent his country. In the second meeting on Sunday, both Kouch Dani and Kem Alex got the call-up. Dani, from PPCFC as well, was positioned wide on the right and with most of the early play taking place on the left flank or down the middle, he saw very little action. So he was as surprised as anyone when his number was held up after just 24 minutes and his national team debut came to an abrupt end. It was a strange decision by the head coach and left the French-Khmer player looking equally perplexed. As for Alex, his first game lasted just 32 minutes before he too, was removed from the field of play. The American-Khmer player found the going tough in the middle of midfield, was often off the pace, his touch was wayward and the substitution, to be frank, wasn't unexpected. Cambodia lost both matches to Ulsan University 1-nil and we'll have to wait and see if Sovannara includes any of the three players in his final squad for the AFC Challenge Cup. The experiment wasn't the rip-roaring success from the outset that many had hoped for, judging by Sovannara's tactical reactions, but it's still early days and the squad have more training sessions ahead of them before the coach has to announce his final selection. The bubble hasn't quite burst but it's a little deflated right now.