Cambodia’s AFF Suzuki Cup campaign from the supporters’ point of view

Many of Cambodia’s supporters have expressed their disappointment to Cambodia’s poor results and performance in the 2018 AFF Suzuki Cup as the Kouprey Blues were eliminated from Group A.

Cambodia finished fourth of five teams in Group A after three losses and one win as their form is still below their supporters’ expectation, with many of them criticizing the team for the poor results and how they conceded goals.

TheMorning have offered a great opportunity to several supporters to give their honest assessments on Cambodia’s AFF Suzuki Cup campaign and changes they wish to see in the future.

Malirith Pheav told TheMorning: “Yes, of course it’s always disappointing. I expected we got three points from four games in the group, but I never expected we conceded many goals with that kind of performance.

“We need to improve our teamwork, strength, and finish, and the players need to change their habit to be more professional. I have nothing to say, but I do have one question whether we want the coach to fix the problems and enhance the team performance today or in the future.

“If we think about the future, why don’t we focus on the youth or academy players? Why need to focus on the senior team, while our goal is for the future? To be honest, I have never felt satisfied with Honda since the Football Federation of Cambodia signed him.

“I know what his goal and commitment for Cambodia’s team, but he doesn’t deserve to take this position, while we really want to see our team go forward.”


Sopheak Phal said: “We are still playing the way we play in the last decade when we always lost to other national teams, except Laos, Brunei, and Timor Leste. In this year’s AFF Suzuki Cup campaign, everything still remains unchanged.

“There is no any improvement so far – just the fact that we reduce the number of goals conceded from the opponents. No doubt, it doesn’t meet my expectation, and basically I would say almost none of Cambodia’s supporters love such a performance.

“There is nothing the national team alone can change in order to make things better here. We are lack of resources, meaning that the number of potential and skillful footballers is limited due to the fact that it is not a well-paid job here in Cambodia.

“There must be a big revolution or change in the whole football system. For example, one school should have one football pitch, and one football club should have a few levels of academy players and create tournaments for every level with an acceptable reward.

“We acknowledge that coaching football is a process, and it takes time, but look – it has been years already, and we are still defeated easily. We need instant results with no more excuses. What I am confidently claiming is that as long as we make use of the same players from year to year, we still lose as we are right now regardless who the coach is.

“We need competition among our own players, and new recruitment is highly needed to change the style of play in order to produce a better result.

“I have message to the national team players and coaches. The players – please be well-disciplined and play at your absolute best as you represent 18 million people. Head coach – I would highly recommend you to bring on new football system to reform and restore Cambodian football, not just style of play alone.”


Sovannara Sorn said: “In overall, there is no difference from last time’s AFF Suzuki Cup as we have met the same teams and conceded more goals than in 2016. It doesn’t mean we are a step backward, but we are standstill if compared to other teams that have improved a lot. With their experienced coaches, they have prepared well since before the AFF Suzuki Cup.

“Prior to the tournament, I expected that we would get seven points from the tournament with two wins over Laos and Malaysia and a draw with Myanmar in an away game, but it was quite different from my expectation.

“We need a big football reform. I don’t know what’s going on with the Football Federation of Cambodia. I have read a report about the federation’s budget. We have spent a lot and even more than Myanmar have, but why are they still better and stronger than us?

“I don’t want to talk much about the Football Federation of Cambodia, but if we want to make changes in Cambodian football, we must think about what has happened in the Football Federation of Cambodia.

“We need to make a reform in our league, too. There should be a set of rules and regulations for each club that they need to have a sustainable budget, football pitch, and academy players. I’m not sure if we have these rules. We also need to raise the league prize.

“Our youth players should have a regular game, and each club should have academy players.

“I have my respect for [Keisuke] Honda. He is a world-class player, who has a wide range of experience as a player, but he has no experience as a coach or the General Manager. I think he will become a great coach in the future after he retires from professional football as a player.

“I don’t understand why the Football Federation of Cambodia decided to appoint him as he is still playing a professional football for his club, so he has no enough time to coach our players. I have no ideas where Felix [Dalmas] comes from and whether he has experience in coaching any teams. I don’t know if he works independently or not when Honda is not around. It is quite complicated.

“We know our main issues of our players are stamina and physical. They aren’t professional footballers at all if they still have problems with that. They need to learn to be a professional player.

“If they get a chance to play abroad, they should grab the chance as overseas league is quite more competitive.”


Kakada Samret said: “I think our progression is still so small if based on the results and performance. I expected us to beat Laos and score goals against big team, but we lost heavily against tough teams. Our national team have done only half of my expectation.

“We need some changes in our national team. We need a good structure in the team, and the head coach and general manager need to receive full respect, without corruption or something else behind. I hope to see a clear and fair decision in player selection to join the national team and to play.

“We have lost many games in a row since the friendly matches till the AFF Suzuki Cup. [Keisuke] Honda has insisted the fans need to be patient. Of course, we can be, but our patience has limit.

“Some fans can’t be patient, so they have criticized the team, while the others understand the scenario of the football development process. They are still patient and looking forward to seeing the progression.

“I appreciate what Honda is doing, but I doubt Cambodia’s local coaching staff whether they are willing and committed to doing their job with high responsibility to meet what Honda and Felix want to achieve.

“I wish the Football Federation of Cambodia staff to have a close and effective communication with the national team coaches to select quality players to join the national team. I want to see a fair and effective player selection.

“We still have some problems in player selection as some players don’t deserve to get a national team call-up, while the other players, who should receive the call-up, are, yet, excluded from the team.

“The national team are competing for the pride of the nation and fans. Against Vietnam, I don’t understand why we didn’t play our important players as it was our last game. Many our supporters were looking forward to seeing our star players to feature against Vietnam.

“Football is about producing a good game to please the fans. After seeing the lineup against Vietnam, I came up with a question whether they were destroying or developing our football.”

Photo courtesy of Football Federation of Cambodia