Cambodia have bowed out of the 2018 AFF Suzuki Cup as they sit in the fourth place of five teams in Group A following three defeats and a win.
Vietnam, who top Group A, accompanied by Malaysia, progress to the semi-final of the tournament, while Cambodia, who were beaten by Vietnam, Malaysia, and Myanmar before defeating Laos, left this year’s AFF Suzuki Cup with three points.
After some of you may have already read our interview with several of Cambodia’ local football journalists in our early report on Cambodia’s form, poor results, and progression, here is Part 2 of the interview…
Monghak Yong of PNN said: “First of all, I would like to express my satisfaction on the efforts from all the players and coaching staff that they have put their all in this tournament.
“This year, we earned our first victory in the group stage since after we did over Philippines in 2002. I have seen better energy, better feeling, better confidence and better commitment from the players.
“Never forget the fans who always go to cheer for the team in every home game.
“The only win against young team Laos in this 2018 AFF Suzuki Cup is what I expected as some of their vital and experienced players were not available.
“The narrow lose to former champions Malaysia in Phnom Penh is a respected outcome for me, and we also created several good chances in the game.
“In Myanmar, I expected the team to do better than they did. We did well in the first half; however, I really wondered why the coach decided to substitute the best scorer of the country [Vathanaka Chan] at half time, while he was not injured. He opened the scoring to put us in front.
“The decision from the coach saw the team completely collapse in the second period. It was too bad for me to accept. I wondered again with what his objective was from the game against Vietnam. Was it just to offer the playing time and experience for rookie players in the last group-stage game after we were already eliminated? Did he intent to get at least a point from the game? Why did he make so many changes? Or can’t he still find his best 11 and still check the players’ abilities? These are the questions I keep asking.
“I’m in favor of the manager and coach who have insisted that this is just the beginning and in the process to build a stronger national team. It’s scientifically true. Nevertheless, I want to see some changes in their work.
“I know [Keisuke] Honda is still busy with his playing career, but I do want to see more frequent presence of him with the players. He is the main motivation and aspiration for the current national team players and other stars-in-the-making.
“Honestly, I respect the hard work of current local coaches who have been serving the national team for years since with other former national team coaches.
“However, now we have world-class star player Honda as our manager and Argentinian Felix [Dalmas] as our coach, so I want to see a very complete coaching staff of foreign contingents with real professional skill, knowledge, and experience as the assistant coach, goalkeeping coach, and fitness coach. I, also, want to see some changes in his selection.
“You can see the number of fans attending our last home game against Laos. The figure dropped after a string of poor results, and it really affects the fans’ hearts.
“Nonetheless, I wish to see much more fans in the league and cup competitions. Without big number of fans for the clubs’ games, there will still be very few sponsors for the clubs.
“Companies dare to spend thousands of dollars per night for a concert, but they don’t want to spend it for a club in one season. Because of what? Fans need to step up to help our football, or we will still be like this for decades to come.”
Dysopheaktra Chhun of Bongpress said: “I think that everything would end like this because we do know that our opponents are really strong, and only Laos are almost at the same level as us. I thought we would surely get three points from Laos.
“I hope to see the strategy that can truly help the team and that can make us better than now. We have experienced too much with these ambitions, yet nothing has changed yet after several years.
“I really don’t understand their claim. They [Keisuke Honda and Felix Dalmas] have insisted that it’s just the beginning and in the process, but since our friendly matches till the AFF Suzuki Cup I have not seen much improvement of the team yet.
“It [AFF Suzuki Cup] is the only tournament that we focused in this year. Although we are already eliminated, I want to see our team still fight till the end to get a better result, not just a poor performance against tournament favorites Vietnam.
“I just want to remind them [players] to stay focused and get to work hard with their skills in order to improve themselves with their club not to only work hard during the national team duty.
“Absolutely [poor results can affect the fans’ support]. In 2018, we have played 9 games, and we won only two of them. We have lost four straight games at home too.”
Photo courtesy of Football Federation of Cambodia