Saturday, September 20, 2014

Can Cambodia spring a surpise?

Cambodia's national team are in Malaysia for a friendly later tonight and if they pull off a shock victory, it could spell the end for the Malaysian head coach Dollah Salleh. He himself admits he's walking on thin ice after losing back-to-back friendlies to Tajikistan (4-1) and Indonesia (2-0) in recent weeks and that a convincing win over Cambodia is expected. For the visitors, a positive result would be an unexpected achievement, as of course Cambodia are preparing for the AFF Suzuki Cup qualifying competition in Laos next month, while Malaysia, as one of the strongest teams in Southeast Asia, will be in the competition proper. There they will meet defending champions and co-hosts Singapore and three-time champions Thailand, alongwith one of the two qualifiers. That could be Cambodia, though most pundits are suggesting its more likely to be Myanmar and hosts Laos that go through from the five-team qualifying pool, that also includes Brunei and Timor-Leste. South Korean coach Lee Tae-Hoon sprang a surprise earlier this week when he announced the 20-man Cambodia squad for the Malaysia game, and a further match against Indonesia on 25 September. Two players he's been supportive of since he took charge of the team in August 2010, Sos Suhana from Phnom Penh Crown and Boeung Ket defender Touch Pancharong have been dropped from the touring party, alongwith Kok Boris and Bin Thierry from Crown and Svay Rieng's keeper Sar Sophea and Hoy Phallin. The word is that the door has not been shut on their inclusion in the Suzuki Cup squad but it doesn't look likely they will make it. The match against Indonesia, led by Alfred Riedl and who've recently beaten Pakistan and Nepal and drawn with Yemen and Qatar in friendly games, whilst Cambodia have been completely absent from international matches for the whole of this year, is a replacement fixture after Lebanon withdrew. Fortunately, Cambodia were in the region. In the third of their Suzuki Cup warm-up matches, all away from home, Cambodia will play Chinese Taipei in Taiwan on 8 October, just a few days before they head to the qualifiers in Vientiane. Despite playing no senior international friendly matches for what seems like an eternity, Cambodia moved up two places in the FIFA world rankings to 199 in the latest table, published two days ago. They were previously at 201 out of a total of 208 countries but it seems the rankings pay scant attention to the fact that this national team has not played a match in anger since they lost 2-0 to Guam in November 2013. Mind-boggling.
The Cambodia NT squad v Malaysia & Indonesia: *Yaty, Vichet, Visal, Sovan, Samoeun, Piseth, *Srin, Daravorn, *Pheng, Sovannrithy, Udom, *Sokumpheak, *Sothy, Virak, Sothearath, Chanrasmey, Vathanaka, Chhoeun, Soksana, Laboravy. * denotes PPCFC players.

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