Cambodia, like in other previous editions, have crashed out of this year’s AFF Suzuki Cup after three losses and one win that allow them to sit in the fourth place in Group A, with Vietnam and Malaysia advancing to the semi-final as the Group A winners and runners-up, respectively.
The Kouprey Blues began their AFF Suzuki Cup campaign with a disappointing 1-0 defeat to Malaysia at home before they were demolished 4-1 by Myanmar away from home.
However, they bounced back from two straight defeats in a row to thrash Laos 3-1 to secure their first AFF Suzuki Cup group-stage victory before going down 3-0 to Vietnam in their conclusion match in Group A.
After Cambodia’s disappointment in the AFF Suzuki Cup, TheMorning have inquired some of Cambodia’s local football journalists, who have followed the tournament closely, to have their say on Cambodia’s recent form, poor results, progression, and the like.
Here is the Part 1 of the interview…
Vuthy Nget of BTV NEWS said: “I think we had done better than we did in 2016. With just a few months [after the appointment of Keisuke Honda], we have a new style of play. We dominated the game against Laos, and we controlled the possession. I had never seen such a performance before.
“We are trying to apply a good build-up play against tough teams, though we still have some problems with our defense. This is why we conceded many goals. Concentration and confidence are still the big issues for our players. I don’t know why, but we may get better results if they [defenders] try to put more concentration.
“The results are like what I expected, but we still have problems with our defense. I think the coach should no longer use the players who don’t have enough desire and aren’t responsible [to play for the team], no matter how good they are. If they can’t give 100 per cent for the national team, they shouldn’t be selected to join the national team even though they play well for their clubs.
“If we have high expectation, we need to think about the football development process. It takes time to develop a football team as a few months is not enough to make it happen. We need time. We have changed from defensive approach to attack with confidence as we could score first against Malaysia [friendly match] and Myanmar. We dominated the possession up to 70 per cent against Laos, so this is the change that we could see.”
Chanra Chean of Sabay said: “I think the Cambodia National Team have not performed good enough if compared to their performance in 2016; however, we can get three points, unlike in 2016 when we didn’t get any points.
“The performance in this year’s AFF Suzuki Cup is not better than in 2016, but as we know we are in the same group with several tough teams. They are big teams, and they are moving forward. Therefore, we must keep moving forward too.
“Football is not about luck alone as it’s down to the quality of each team. We need to be strong to win the games, but our quality is below them [opponents]. We need to acknowledge that. I think Laos’ performance is not as good as they were in 2016.
“The results aren’t too bad with one win based on our quality. I think our current players don’t need much change, but we need to develop quality academy players. If we still keep the experienced and old players, they can’t make big change or progression.
“We need strong and quality academy players before they join the national team. The coach played several youngsters against Vietnam to give them experience as he may look into 2019 because Cambodia will take part in the AFC tournament at home and ASEAN Games. We will need to use U22 as the players like Vathanaka Chan and Monyudom Prak are overage.
“Felix [Dalmas] and [Keisuke] Honda have insisted that this is just the beginning, but it is the beginning for them not for the players who have already had much experience. I’m not against what they have raised because some of our players come up with different levels, so it is hard for them to perform well as a team.
“Based on the current poor results, the fans have criticized the players and coaches, but some of them don’t focus on a long-term project whether they only need good results today or for the future.
“If we don’t start with the academy, it will be hard to see the progression. I think the Football Federation of Cambodia should encourage the clubs to build their academy to give the coach more options in selecting the players to join the national team.
“I hope our players will play with high commitment and give everything for the team, and they shouldn’t be disappointed or lose hope because of the criticism. The fans want a good result, so when the team can’t achieve it, they criticize the team. As professional players, they need to deal with criticism and try to learn to develop themselves.
“Winning the games is the most important factor that encourages the fans to go to the games. If the team lose, some fans are not happy with that, while the others may have no more motivation to go to the games. However, they shouldn’t focus only on the results, meaning that they should support the team when they win and lose.
“I believe that the fans will still support the team, but at the moment they aren’t happy with the results. I think we will still have many fans going to the games at home if we host some international tournaments.”
Photo courtesy of Football Federation of Cambodia