Saturday, February 14, 2009

Up, up and away

Some good news to report for Cambodia on the international football scene. FIFA's current rankings have just been released and Cambodia are now in 179th position, an improvement by a few rungs on the ladder from most of last year, though to be sandwiched between Somalia and Palestine isn't much to shout about! Their best-ever ranking was way back in July 1998 when they were rated at 156th, their worst being 188th at the end of 2005. The next games at national level will be in the AFC Challenge Cup qualifying group stage with matches in Bangladesh, against the home nation, Myanmar and the winners of Macau or Mongolia, who will play a pre-qualifying decider beforehand.
As I mentioned a while back, the Football Federation of Cambodia are now casting their net far and wide for fresh faces for the national team. The hierachy were in France recently to watch a match involving 35 French players, all keen to play for Cambodia, and cobbled together for the event by former Cambodian player Pen Phat, who lives in France. It's just a pity they didn't ask national team coach Prak Sovannara to see the talent on show too. Next stop in the overseas window-shopping spree will apparently be America. Here's what the FFC supremo Lt General Sao Sokha had to say when asked about the national team; "Our national team is not very strong right now but we hope to make gradual progress and improve our performances. What we would like to do first of all is to strengthen the domestic league and cup competitions through the clubs. Our development plans have yet to bear fruit so we have started looking for Cambodian players overseas who can help make the national team stronger." He seems to have convenienly forgotten that the average age of the national team is currently 22 years of age, many members of the squad have progressed through the youth system and they reached the AFF Suzuki Cup finals for the first time in eight years recently.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you Andy is misreading from Sao Sokha. I think what he meant in his words about recruiting Khmer abroad to play for the national team is that while Cambodian local players are being improved, the federation needs to look for some other help to make the progress faster. It's not like the federation is firing everyone in the current squad and opting to select all abroad players but simply adding more talent in anyway legal way possible.
Maybe there is something you're missing in here also, Andy. Sao Sokha was the organizer of the Cambodian youth league because he took over the national team presidency. I don't think he is forgetting the homegrown talents. He is all about giving opportunity to younger people to succeed. One instance I can recall is his Preh Kan Reach team. This was like 8 years ago and they were looking for players to join the team as they were just starting up. Some people advised him to choose experienced older players but he declined and said that the older players, as more experienced as they are, have nowhere to go and only the young players have a future that can go a long way. Sao Sokha is all about the underdogs, as I know it. In his own words, he doesn't like to pick a winning team and expect the already secured victory but pick a weak team with potential and build them up to be a successful one.

February 15, 2009 at 1:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Andy. I hope that Cambodia national football team in the near future will be good if they mix the Cambodian oversea player with the current player and training together. And also recruit foreign professional technical to help them.

February 15, 2009 at 3:51 PM  
Blogger Andy Brouwer said...

Its a difficult thing to balance for a country like Cambodia - a quick route to more success.
I wouldn't want them to go down the same route as Singapore for example, where the team heavily leans on the side of imported foreigners, who've 'qualified' to play for the national team. If Cambodia aim for players with Khmer family heritage then that's perfectly acceptable in my view, as long as those 'overseas' Khmers are better than the current home-grown squad. And it should be the team coach that selects the players, not the federation officials, however genuine they may be.
As for foreign technical assistance, they have tried this avenue in the past with successive coaches but with little positive success judging by past results. Its a very tricky thing to get right and I'm sure its an alternative that the federation will consider again, if they have the appropriate finances. However Prak Sovannara is the man in the hot seat at the moment and I'd like to see him given a proper crack of the whip for the forseeable future.
Football is all about opinions which makes it the wonderful sport that it is, so we'll all have our own views, especially about the national team. As long as we all want it to be successful, give them our support and don't expect them to win the World Cup anytime soon, then we should all find something to enjoy this season.

February 15, 2009 at 6:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great.if Sao Sokha can organize the Cambodian national football team get best results in any competition matches in the future.that would be great and I will call him the HERO of Cambodian Football History.

Cambodian Football Lover forever.

February 16, 2009 at 4:41 PM  

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