Cambodia head coach Felix G. Dalmas has sought to reassure fans after his team suffered a 4-0 defeat to visiting Iraq on Tuesday evening at Phnom Penh’s National Stadium.
Cambodia’s loss was their third straight defeat of the FIFA Qatar 2022 Group C qualifiers and on the back of last week’s 14-0 hammering at the hands of Iran.
“First, extremely thankful for the people who came to support us, said the Argentinian who took over alongside Japanese general manager Keisuke Honda last year.
“They’re amazing you [fans] truly are our twelfth player. [Regarding] the game, we improved in many things and there are a lot of things to improve. We know that when teams come and play against us, they want to make it a physical game. Their plan is clear. So we were better today in our plan. In passing in moving, in making good decisions. It’s not easy especially against such strong teams.”
Cambodia, ranked 169th in the FIFA rankings, rarely threatened in the game, coming closest through Koe Sokpheng midway through the first period. However, Iraq struck twice in each half to snatch the points and keep Cambodia rock bottom of the group.
“It’s really nice to be measured [against] strong teams and it gives us and the players motivation to keep going, explained Dalmas.
“The players really gave it 100 percent. They gave it all they got and that’s a good way to grow. Looking forward, we’ll look at our last game and we’ll keep on improving.
“Once again, the players tried to follow the philosophy and tried to follow the plan for 90 mins. We had the ball and we had some chances but soccer is like that. I feel that we’re better than when we played Hong Kong and we’re better than when we played Bahrain so I can’t wait for the next round of games.
“Our goal is to take Cambodia to the next level,” he added.
For Iraq coach Srečko Katanec, the three points gained were a formality against weaker opposition.
“I congratulate my players for doing a good job. They played well and scored more goal [and] did our job to take the three points. We were a much better team, said the Slovenian tactician.
“It’s not about Cambodia players being a little small but with the situation we played some good crosses and a high swing of the ball it’s difficult to make a difference for any team not just for Cambodia. But we should also score more goals from the ground.”
Coach Dalmas was also asked about the kingdom’s chances in the upcoming SEA Games, with the coach giving a conservative response.
“About the SEA Games, to be honest it’s one of the first times we’ve got a good draw, he said.
“But not because of the [quality] other teams but because we are in the group with fewer teams. Last Under-23 tournament we did well but like I said before do not misunderstand where we’re at. Other teams have very strong players and very strong teams. Philippines, Malaysia Timor Leste have strong teams.”