Thursday, August 7, 2014

Sam on the spot

Sam Schweingruber answering questions
Phnom Penh Crown coach Sam Schweingruber answered a series of questions from local news website Sabay and this is what he had to say:

Q. What was good and bad about your season?
A. If you only draw 3 games and lose 2 out of 22 games (so make 54 from a max of 66 - dropping 12 points) and you are 7 points clear of second place, you have obviously done a lot of things really well. Our team has a good understanding of how we want to play, good ideas, very good fitness and also excellent team work and unity. We focused quite a bit on set pieces and have achieved reasonable success. The coaching staff managed to give the players a goal that everybody worked really well to achieve. For weak points - I would call it areas that we want to improve. Not weak but more like not yet good enough. We are getting better at understanding how to play in difficult situations, need to be more relaxed under pressure, so that is a mental problem and comes with experience and we hope to develop this. We also need to be more composed in front of goal. I am not happy with the amount of chances we missed. Also, this year we conceded a total of 20 goals - that is too much and a few of the goals were really silly mistakes - we will work hard to cut these mistakes and be better organized.
Q. What was the difference between the 1st and 2nd Rounds for your team?
A. A good team in not built overnight, it takes time to develop understanding of the plans and also understanding of the players with each other. Sure, the addition of Adriano Pellegrino helped our team to be more mature and controlled in stressful situations. But all in all I would say that our team needed more time to develop and get more comfortable with the ways we want to play. We only lost 1 game in the first half of season - and that had to do with an early red card in the game - something that can happen to any team.

Q. What's your future with Crown?
A. As I am currently working for FIFA in China for a whole month, the contract negotiations have not been progressing. I have a verbal agreement from the Club to continue to work with me. Even though I have some other interesting offers, I am hoping to stay at the Club for a few more years to further develop this project to make the Club more professional and also gain international recognition.

Q. What are the plans for next season?
A. The plans are to further improve the way we play and start integrating Academy players into the first team for longer term success. We will do everything possible to achieve success in the domestic competitions and strengthen our squad if possible to also be challenging internationally. Yes, we will try hard to retain the CPL title, but we are also aware that there are many other teams investing and looking to develop a strong team to challenge us. This is good for Cambodian Football as competition will improve the quality and standard. 

Q. What was good and bad about the season?
A. The playing facilities (both pitches) are terrible and the standard of refereeing will also need to be further improved for football to properly develop in Cambodia. The new teams that were added have impressed me, I am glad these teams (Albirex and TriAsia) are here and try to develop football the right way. 

Q. What about activities for the Fans?
A. I am very happy to see more and more focus on generating interest for the fans. The fans are the blood of each club and we need more of them to get our clubs more professional and better. I hope the Cambodian people start to understand more of the meaning of loyalty to a club - so many people I see wear Boeung Ket and Crown jerseys within the same season - some people even change during the day - unbelievable. At Crown we are committed to prioritize the establishment of a proper fan club and we hope to have at the start of home games, a good crowd to support us.

Q. Will the new surface at Olympic Stadium improve our football?
A. Oh for sure, the current field is absolute disgraceful, never cut, not maintained, sometimes rocks on it and so on. To get an artificial pitch is not ideal but at least we then have a flat surface to play on. You can see how much better the Academy play when they go overseas and the same was true for our first team when we played in Vietnam, much better football for teams that look at applying a possession-based style of football. FIFA studies show how the level of football improves if you invest in new pitches - this is one of the reasons Crown has a very good training ground and is soon going to have home games on a great pitch. I'm glad the FFC has received the FIFA funding to renovate the Olympic Stadium.
Q. How should the FFC improve?
A. The lack of communication is strange. We don’t even know what player is on how many yellow cards. There are no official websites or information online, so it is hard for fans or officials to get news. There are many decisions made by the Federation that should be in agreement with the clubs. Suspensions of players are handled without consulting players and there is no proper way to appeal and so on. In general, the Federation is challenged with a lot of work and limited manpower, so there are many shortfalls. Double standards are something that I can not believe the fans accept, complete injustice or clear wrong decisions I have a hard time to believe the fans and football community are not protesting louder. But I think it is all part of the slow process of developing football in Cambodia. The list of questions I have, concerns I could raise, and wrong doing that I could point to is very long and to address over the media is the wrong way - so I leave it at this. Cambodia needs a reserve league and I am currently designing a proposal to get funding to organize it with Crown and endorsed by the Federation. Hopefully this will be possible soon.
Sam Schweingruber meets Liu Jiangnan at Guangzhou Evergrande Football School

Sam Schweingruber is currently on a FIFA assignment in China, coaching children and their coaches, at the largest football academy in the world, the Guangzhou Evergrande Football School. Here he hands over a Crown jersey to the school president Liu Jiangnan, a former deputy chairman of the Chinese FA. The statistics for the school are dramatic. It cost $115million to build, the 300-acre project is breathtaking in scale: as well as more than 50 football pitches, it boasts an Olympic-size outdoor pool, a supermarket, a cinema, an open-air stadium and four tower blocks which house around 500 full-time staff. There are 2,400 full-time football-playing students, including 200 girls and 126 youth teams at the school, located 50 miles from Guangzhou. The scale is mind-boggling and all designed to make China a football superpower in the future. 

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