Sunday, August 25, 2013

Through Sam's eyes

Cambodia U-16s head coach Sam Schweingruber reflected on his team's 6-0 defeat to Vietnam on Saturday in the AFF U-16 Youth Championship.
"The first 35 minutes of the game showed us that our objective to win against Vietnam was difficult but certainly possible. The intensity and commitment displayed by the players made me proud. We worked so hard and well.  Individual technical mistakes and a lot of fouls made it difficult for our boys to really build up and keep possession and while Vietnam were strong they did not really cause us trouble or danger other than a corner kick and a shot from distance. We knew that we needed a perfect game and a bit of luck, but neither of it came our way on the day. On 32 minutes I had to replace Senteang after a strong challenge in which he broke his collarbone. Soon after Dinarong needed treatment for a kick in his leg and he played on but in pain. On 38 mins this cost us; a long free kick and Dinarong was a bit slower and less aggressive with his injury and Titchhy was also late to cover and we were down 1-nil. After a corner kick it was Mesa’s turn to get treatment and the late challenge on him should’ve been punished. The game was certainly not over and just before half-time we were robbed of a perfect chance - a 1-touch ball was played through and left 2 of our players alone against the goalkeeper, but the referee decided on a free kick for us and stole a perfect advantage.

At half-time we had to change Mesa and Samnang replaced him. We also had to fix injuries to Sodavid & Ravan who both had trouble breathing after hard hits, Chanpolin and Ponvuthy with ankle issues and Dinarong with his injury. We took a risk to keep Dinarong on the field. After just 3 mins, a nice cross and Dinarong reacted late; it was clear that it was the wrong call to let him continue and a third goal confirmed it. So Sovann replaced him on 55 mins. We had long spells of attacking and I decided to push the team to at least score a goal. On a few occasions we came close - the best chance fell to Sokheng when he went through for a 1-on-1 with their keeper. Vietnam was now pushed back on the defensive and hoping to punish us on the counter attack. We failed to find a way through, wasted some free kicks and good possession and then got punished on the quick break. The final score, 6-0 was a total disappointment. Many players cried, both because of complete exhaustion and in disbelief how such a brave performance can end with such a heavy defeat.

With the well-rested Vietnam team (who had 3 complete days to recover before the match) going into the game with a direct and very physical approach and their head coach pushing them to hurt us, it was all too much for our boys. I am very proud of how they tried, how well we played the first 35 mins, how they never gave up and how much they wanted to make Cambodia proud. The disappointing result did not reflect on their brave performance. Luck was not with us today and some of our decisions didn’t work either. We are now looking to recover and learn from today, and will aim to end the tournament with a positive game and result against Myanmar on Wednesday."


Vichet said...

Dear Andy, this is probably a little too fast but I've just known that the Cambodia U16 just lost to Myanmar 2-1. I'm a big Cambodian fan but the result of both the full national team and the youth team(s) is not promising. I've read colorful stories of how well the U16 team performed against Australia and Vietnam but the fact is that we are not getting the result. The game against Myanmar proved that. I'm a little tired to read about the decline of Cambodian football. All the minnows have moved up while we are left behind. We can't even beat Brunei, Laos and Timor Leste anymore recently. While the lost to Timor Leste is excusable due to the physicality of the Timorese players, the lost against the other two is simply embarrassing. With your close association with a professional team can you tell us why we are such poor team?

Andy Brouwer said...

There are not colourful stories as you put it. Both the Australia & Vietnam matches were defeats, as was the loss to Myanmar. No-one likes to lose, especially the youth players. They have more pride than anyone I know in playing for their country.
The problem is that we are starting from a long way back and trying to catch up with our neighbours, who've simply moved on much quicker than we have. They have been involved in serious youth programmes for the last few years, whilst the Cambodian FA have simply stood still. A few teams have put their efforts into producing good youth players but it needs a lot more work by everyone. Only when we have a proper development plan for youth football, and a lot more organised youth programmes throughout the country to identify the best talent, will we have a hope of getting on a par with our neighbours.
As for the senior players/national team, we have to accept that these players do not have the professional background that other countries have employed for many years already. So our players have not been coached correctly from a young age, they play on inadequate pitches, have inadequate diets and lag well behind our neighbours, even those like Laos. Brunei and Timor Leste. I have seen the facilities at Timor Leste, they put Cambodia's facilities to shame.
Until the football authorities are serious about their jobs and the investment can be found to take Cambodian football forwards, then we will continue to drop down the FIFA ankings like a stone, and continue to fail in all regional competitions, in my opinion.