Sunday, May 31, 2009

Cambodia's new coach?

The air was thick with rumour and intrigue at this afternoon's Cambodia Premier League matches at the Olympic Stadium. I'll bring you the results in another posting but the most important development is in the form of a new team coach for the senior Cambodia national team. It was no coincidence that Scott O'Donell (right: Getty Images) has been at the Olympic Stadium for the last two weekends and the word on the terraces is that he will be taking over the reins of a role he has held before. The 42 year old played his football in Australia, Malaysia and Singapore before spells in charge at Geylang United (Singapore) and as the Cambodia coach in 2005 for a couple of years, whilst also appearing on ESPN television as a football pundit. More recently he's been director of coaching education with the Asian Football Confederation in Kuala Lumpur, holds the AFC's A certificate and a national coaching license from Australia. His family live in Phnom Penh so that's a good reason to be seen here but there's a big desire at the Cambodian Football Federation to have a coach with overseas experience and O'Donell fits that bill. For the past year Cambodia's best coach Prak Sovannara has been in charge of the national team, taking them to the finals of the Suzuki Cup and just missing out on a place in next year's AFC finals. So far this season, he has been helping with the coaching at league leaders Preah Khan Reach as his contract with the national team wasn't renewed and he was working on a match by match basis. I must repeat that this has not been confirmed by the FFC but watch this space. Update: I've just had confirmation from Scott O'Donell himself - he's the new head coach of the Cambodia national team.

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Blogger Andy Brouwer said...

Here's a news report from the end of Scott O'Donell's 1st spell in charge of the Cambodian national football team.

Soccer-Cambodia lose coach O'Donell after cash runs dry - b Ek Madra
Wed Dec 19, 2007

Cambodia's cash-strapped national team has parted company with Australian coach Scott O'Donell because it could not find the money to pay him, the country's soccer president said on Wednesday.

O'Donell opted not to renew the contract, due to expire at the end of this year, after a sponsor paying his salary pulled the plug on the deal.

"Scott's payment is too high, we cannot afford it," Sao Sokha, president of Cambodia's soccer federation, told Reuters.

"Our country's economy is recovering from the past difficult times," he said, referring to Cambodia's three-decades of civil war, which included the brutal Khmer Rouge "killing fields" genocide between 1975 and 1979.

"For sure, Scott is a good coach but training players to achieve the level of our satisfaction we cannot do overnight," he said.

O'Donell, a well-known television soccer pundit in Asia, said he wished he could have done more with the team.

"At the end of the day it came down to money, which Cambodia doesn't really have," he said.

"There's no hard feelings, the team just didn't get the support it needed.

"I know I gave it everything I could, I've not been able to do what I wanted. They just couldn't afford to keep me on."

The Australian had endured a tumultuous two-and-a-half years in charge of the struggling side and surprised many when he refused to quit following a bizarre intervention by Cambodian Prince Norodom Ranariddh, who replaced the team with his own just days before the Southeast Asian Games in 2005.

Cambodia's team of part-timers is one of the world's least successful national sides and is currently 183rd out of the 201 countries in the FIFA rankings.

They were eliminated in the first round of qualifying for the 2010 World Cup and were hammered 3-1, 6-2 and 8-0 to finish bottom of their group in this month's Southeast Asian Games. (Writing and additional reporting by Martin Petty; Editing by John O'Brien)

May 31, 2009 at 3:11 AM  

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