Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Spare a thought

Spare a thought for former Cambodian national football team coack Prak Sovannara as the spotlight now shifts to the country's new Australian coach Scott O'Donell, who began work yesterday. Softly-spoken Sovannara took over the national team in July of last year and is Cambodia's best home-grown coach by a country mile. Though his record in a dozen international matches under his control of three wins, 1 draw and eight defeats, goals for 14, goals against 37, doesn't look too rosy, he was building for the future with a very young team and included in that record was successful qualification for the finals of the Suzuki Cup. For the first quarter of this year he was working without a contract and it was pretty clear to me that the Federation were actively looking for a coach with overseas experience, which they have now got. As for Sovannara, he has been coaching the Premier League leaders Preah Khan Reach this season and has also received offers to go and coach in Europe. Such a move would be invaluable experience for him and one that would augur well for a return to coach the national team sometime in the future. He is afterall only 37 years old, he's been coaching full-time for the last decade and experience outside Cambodia would be great for his coaching CV. Added to which he is a real gentleman, went out of his way to co-operate with the press at all times and remains committed to helping Cambodian football in any way he can.

Prak Sovannara took over as Cambodia's national coach in July 2008 after a string of poor performances under the former South Korean coach and the forecast looked bleak when a three week stint of practice matches in South Korea, produced losses in six of eight games to university and domestic teams. Not easily deterred, Sovannara, who played for the national team in the 1990s and who has coached domestic side Phnom Penh Empire and the national youth team, also cast aside crushing friendly defeats, 7-1 to Myanmar and 7-0 to Indonesia, to put some fire into the belly of his players for the AFF Suzuki Cup qualifying tournament held in Phnom Penh last October. With wins over Laos (3-2) and Brunei (2-1), a draw with Timor Leste (2-2) and a loss to Philippines (2-3), his youthful Cambodian team, with an average age of 22, qualified as runners-up for the finals. This was a real success for the fans and players alike to rejoice in, exemplified by the whole squad running to throw their shirts into the 15,000 crowd at the end of the qualifiers. In the December finals Cambodia came unstuck against Singapore (0-5) and Indonesia (0-4) and narrowly lost to Laos 3-2 but could hold their heads high in competing at the senior level of Asean football. In April, he took his young squad to Bangladesh for the AFC Challenge Cup group stage and narrowly failed to qualify, beating Macau 2-1 but losing to Bangladesh and Myanmar, by a 1-nil scoreline on both occasions. He was looking to build the squad ahead of the SEA Games in Laos in December until he was told that his place was to be taken by Scott O'Donell at the weekend.

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home

Newer›  ‹Older