Wednesday, November 20, 2013

No official record

Guam pictured before yesterday's kick-off. Cambodia didn't bother. Pic by Jill Espiritu
Cambodia played an international friendly match yesterday against Guam. So you'd expect to see a picture of the Cambodian line-up just before kick-off. Every team has a picture taken don't they? Especially for an international match. Not Cambodia. The photographers took so long to snap the Guam team that Cambodia gave up waiting and ran onto the pitch ready for the kick-off. The officials didn't bat an eyelid and so there is no official team photo for the game. It's not a game changer by any stretch of the imagination, but it points to a general malaise that is afflicting our football at the moment. Guam came to Phnom Penh expecting the friendly international to be an official FIFA-sanctioned match, as was their game in Laos a few days before. They were looking for it to reflect positively on their FIFA ranking, which is 27 places higher than Cambodia's by the way. Just before they went home they finally received confirmation that the game was billed as an A-match, so they'll be happy as larry. And they take home a 2-0 victory to boot and looked the better of the two sides by a country mile. In Ryan Guy, they have a striker that Cambodia would die for. He never stopped running, challenging, won every ball in the air, and showed why he plays pro football in the USA's Major League Soccer.

For Cambodia, many of the fans had come to see Chhunly Pagenburg, the 27-year old FSV Frankfurt striker who plies his trade in Bundesliga 2 this season. He had made the considerable effort to fly over for this game, the second time in as many months, and came even though he was nursing a slight knock, only to be told by Lee Tae-Hoon that the coach would start with his U-23 line-up. That by the way, didn't even include a recognised striker. How would you feel? Chhunly got on the pitch just before the hour, and even though he was pushed out wide on the left, he showed more than enough with some deft footwork, that he will be a big asset to the national team in next year's international matches. He will obviously need some bedding in with the rest of the squad, but if he's fit and raring to give it a go, he must be selected.
Chhunly Pagenburg makes his national team debut, as a 2nd half substitute - pic by Jill Espiritu


Andy Brouwer said...

The malaise extends to the local press as well. The Cambodia Daily don't bother with local sport so that's a no-go avenue to start with, but the Phnom Penh Post do cover the games. Well, not this one apparently, except for 1 picture on the back page and 2 lines of text. For an INTERNATIONAL MATCH. 2 lines of text. Like we have international matches all the time (not)...the last one was over a year ago. What is it with Cambodia and football...doesn't anyone actually give a toss? Where are the people who are passionate about the game? Why are they not creating more of a fuss that only a few people are taking football seriously in this country? Are we just pissing in the wind?

Anonymous said...

Club football is going to be the vanguard of Cambodian football for some time to come. The national teams and initiatives require better management and initiative (as opposed to finance) than is available at the moment.