Prak Sovannara, Cambodia’s national football team head coach, said that he sees a lot of similarities between his side and tonight’s international friendly match opponents Laos.
Speaking at a press conference yesterday from Vientiane, the 45-year-old coach also highlighted the importance of the match as preparation ahead of the kingdom’s AFC Asian Cup qualifier in Group C against Afghanistan in Tajikistan on the 27th.
“In both Laos and Cambodia, the situation is very similar, said the former title-winning Boeung Ket coach. “We like to give our young players some gametime, as do Laos. The match will be important, especially for our young players who will be playing against Afghanistan later this month.”
Coach Sovannara has called up a slew of new faces in his 23-man squad including defenders Sath Rosib of Boeung Ket and Phnom Penh Crown duo of Ouk Sovan and Yue Safy. They are joined in the squad by Sok Heang of Ministry of National Defense and Mat Noron of Electricite du Cambodge.
They are bolstered by their Malaysia-based quartet of Chan Vathanaka, Keo Sokpheng, Prak Mony Udom, and Thierry Chantha Bin.
Coach Sovannara’s sentiments were echoed by Cambodia’s Terengganu midfielder Thierry, who appeared alongside his coach yesterday.
“Friendly matches like this one are positive, explained the former Phnom Penh Crown midfielder. “Despite not having the chance to training and preparing for a short time, we have to stay focused on being competitive on the field. There are also some young players and newcomers.”
Meanwhile, Laos coach Mike Wong said his young squad were also suffering from a lack of adequate training time.
“I came here 7 months ago. Most of our players are young and currently, we have 23 players whose average age is 22. So I think we’re the youngest team in Southeast Asia,” said the former Brueni tactician.
“We’ve been preparing for a week, but the players playing in Thailand’s football league arrived here just on Monday, and one of them arrived today. But we will see how well we do tomorrow.”
The friendly game – which kicks off at 6pm – will be vital match practice as Cambodia attempt a double over group C rivals Afghanistan whom they beat 1-0 last year in Phnom Penh. Both teams are already out of the running for the competition proper with Jordan and Vietnam claiming first and second positions in the group respectively.