The Cambodia national football team is in Hong Kong as it prepares to face the home team in the second round of the Asian section of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers.
The team, led by manager Keisuke Honda and head coach Felix Dalmas, arrived at the Hong Kong International Airport on Friday evening.
During their game against the host team at Hong Kong Stadium on Tuesday, Nov 19, the Cambodian team will try to salvage its faltering campaign to qualify for the world’s most-anticipated and prestigious soccer competition. The game starts at 7pm (Cambodia time).
“They (Hong Kong) are a strong team with many quality players, including some foreigners,” said Cambodia’s star midfielder Thierry Chantha Bin.
In addition to Chantha Bin, Cambodia is also expected to rely on the attacking prowess of forwards Sieng Chanthea and Keo Sokpheng.
“To have a chance, we need to play our game. Possessions and discipline are important,” said Chantha Bin, who plays professionally in Malaysia for Terengganu FC.
The Cambodian team has been practicing extensively, capping their preparation with a friendly match against the Mongolian national team in Phnom Penh four days ago.
The Hong Kong team is expected to be led by forwards Alex Akande and Alessandro Leonardo.
Midfielder Tan Chun-lok, who scored for Hong Kong during their earlier 1-1 draw against Cambodia, is also expected to play a critical role for the hosts.
Cambodia badly needs to win their match against Hong Kong if they are to stay in contention for a slot in the 2022 World Cup that Qatar will be hosting. A loss will mean another sorry exit for Cambodia, which has never qualified for the World Cup.
In the their bid to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, Cambodia finished last in Group E win after losing all of its eight matches in the qualifiers.
Some 40 teams from Asia, divided into eight groups, are competing in the second round qualifiers that are set to end on June 2020. Only the group winners and four best runners-up can qualify for the third and final round of the World Cup qualifiers which is scheduled to start in Sept 2020.
The same group winners and runners-up are also guaranteed of a slot in the upcoming Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian CUP 2023 that China will be hosting.
Cambodia is drawn into Group C, which is considered one of the toughest groups in the qualifiers.
Also in the group are Asian powerhouses Iran, Iraq, and Bahrain.
Cambodia is currently at the bottom of the standings with one draw and three losses. Cambodia lost to Iran, Iraq, and Bahrain earlier, while drawing with Hong Kong in their first game last Sept 5 at the National Stadium.
Iraq is leading the pack with three wins and one draw, followed by Bahrain with two wins and two draws, Iran with two wins and two losses, and Hong Kong with two draws and two losses.