National Team - Lions ● Oct 14, 2018
Opponent Spotlight: Cambodia
SINGAPORE, 14 OCTOBER 2018 – Ahead of Singapore’s friendly against Cambodia this Tuesday, 16 October, we take a look at our opponents…
FIFA Ranking: 169
Confederation: AFC (Asia), AFF (ASEAN Football Federation, sub-confederation)
Nickname: Kouprey Blue, Angkor Warriors
General Manager: Keisuke Honda
Singapore’s Southeast Asian rival Cambodia has a population of about 15 million people of which 97% are Khmer.
Football is the most popular sport in Cambodia, ahead of martial arts and sepak takraw.
Cambodia joined FIFA in 1953 and in 1972, Cambodia, as Khmer Republic, achieved its greatest finish in an international tournament, clinching fourth place at the Asian Cup.
Cambodia’s highest FIFA rating of 162 was achieved in 1998 and the lowest it reached was 189 in 2013. Today, it is positioned at 169.
The Cambodian football league, the C-League, is the top professional league in the country that is contested by twelve teams.
Nagaworld FC are the current champions, with the C-League season having just ended in September. A familiar player in the current Nagaworld team is former S.League (now Singapore Premier League) star Tatsuro Inui, who played for the likes of Albirex Niigata FC (S) and Warriors FC.
Cambodia’s most recent impressive result was a 1-0 victory in June 2017 over Afghanistan, who were ranked 16 places above them in the FIFA rankings, in a 2019 Asian Cup qualification match.
However since then, they have only managed a single victory – a 1-0 win over Laos.
HOME COMFORT? There will be a first for Cambodia in the upcoming Asian Football Federation (AFF) 2018 Suzuki Cup: home games in the tournament.
With a new format in this year’s edition allowing all teams to play some matches at home in the group stage, the Angkor Warriors hope to use this to their advantage.
Cambodian striker Keo Sokpheng told the Suzuki Cup website, “Playing in our country is always a big boost for us, as we have a lot of supporters coming here to the Olympic Stadium to watch us… It is a very strong motivation for the football team.”
However, Cambodia’s recent home form has been average, winning only two home games in the last two years.
They kick off the 2018 AFF Suzuki Cup campaign against Malaysia on 8 November at the Phnom Penh Olympic Stadium.
STAR INFLUENCE While the official Head Coach of Cambodia is 30-year old Argentinian Felix Gonzalez, the presence of Keisuke Honda in the coaching staff is grabbing all the headlines.
The former AC Milan and CSKA Moscow midfielder’s official role for Cambodia is General Manager and he is playing an advisory role to Gonzalez because he does not have the required coaching licenses.
Honda, who is concurrently playing for Australian A-League side Melbourne Victory, has been involved in Cambodian football before, opening an academy in Phnom Penh in 2016.
The high-profile Japanese player has been with the Cambodia team for one game, a 3-1 defeat to Malaysia in a friendly match in September.
Honda has faced Singapore twice as a player in 2015 – both games in the second-round of the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying. He scored in the game at the Kallang National Stadium in a 3-0 win for Japan.
PLAYERS Most Cambodian national players play in the domestic C-League, with Captain Kouch Sokumpheak, 31, a recent title winner with Nagaworld.
Vice-Captain Thierry Chantha Bin, 27, is one Cambodian player who has ventured overseas. The French-born midfielder has been playing for Malaysian Super League club Terengganu since December 2017.
Chan Vathnaka, 24, one of Cambodia’s leading all-time scorers is another player to look out for. He is a lethal finisher who was the highest goal-scorer of any Southeast Asian nation in 2015 when he scored 60 goals in all competitions for club and country.
Goalkeepers: Chea Vansak, Um Vichet, Keo Soksela
Defenders: Sath Rosib, Hong Pheng, Sor Piseth, Cheng Meng, Sareth Krya, Nen Sothearoth, Soeuy Visal
Midfielders: Chhin Chhoeun, Sos Suhana. Kouch Sokumpheak, Kouch Dani, Orn Champolin, In Sodavid, Brak Thiva, Sin Kakada, Thierry Chantha Bin, Tith Dina
Forwards: Chan Vathanaka, Reung Bunheing, Prak Mony Udom, Keo Sokpheng