Monday, September 28, 2009

Encouraging drubbing

The Cambodia U23 starting line-up on Sunday
Let's kick off with the Cambodia U23 result against Singapore Sunday afternoon. 6-0 looks bad and yes the second half was poor but there were encouraging signs as well as extenuating circumstances. For much of the 1st half Cambodia more than held their own and looked the team most likely until Singapore scored on 35 minutes and never looked back. Give international teams too much space and they will punish you. The Cambodian youngsters will learn this the hard way and once Singapore got their noses in front they made sure they coasted to victory. Two goals down at half-time was unfair, with skipper for the day Sun Sovannarith just failing to stop Khairul Nizam from tapping in the opener and then a lack of concentration at a quickly-taken free-kick allowed Gabriel Quak acres of space to score. After the break, the flow of the game was ruined with 16 substitutions but it didn't deter Singapore with Fadhil Noh getting a hat-trick in sixteen minutes and Fairoz Hasan netting a late sixth. It was a disappointing result for all concerned, especially the big crowd who'd hoped for a better showing by the home side.
It was Scott O'Donell's first game in charge of his second spell as national coach. He was understandably unhappy but also realistic. "We didn't deserve the half-time scoreline, but we certainly deserved to lose by six in the 2nd half. We knew it wasn't going to be easy, but we stopped doing in the second half what we did so well in the first. Its very early days, but we've got to show more character and I've told the players that the game is 90 minutes long not 35. I take responsibility for the result, I pick the team. Though we lost badly, its beneficial to play teams like Singapore as it shows how far we have to go. I hate losing and so do the players. They're all disappointed back there in the dressing room. But we'll get better," he said immediately after the game. Over half of the Cambodian squad played in Saturday's Super 4 play-off finals and with few training sessions together the result shouldn't come as too much of a surprise. Meanwhile, Singapore's squad contained a dozen players from Young Lions, the club side in the S-League who act as a nursery team for the national squad.
O'Donell sprung a mini-surpise by putting Sou Yaty in goal from the start though the rest of his line-up was pretty predictable. Nov Soseila caused Singapore a few problems on the right and Sok Rithy and Tieng Tiny looked comfortable on the ball for much of the 1st half. Kuoch Sokumpheak had a couple of half chances but Cambodia did look toothless in front of goal and that area will need working on. The 25-man squad now travel to Vietnam for nearly a month to hone their team work and play some games against V-League opposition.
The Cambodian U23 team against Singapore (with subs in brackets):
Yaty (Seiha), Rady (Raksmey), Sovannarith, Tiny, Rithy (Dara), Narong (Kosal), Sothearath (Sotheara), Kumpheak (Laboravy), Soseila (Mony Udom), Sokngorn (Chansothea), Sokumpheak (Chhaya).

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