Ahead of their second FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 & Asian Cup 2023 preliminary group stage game against Bahrain tomorrow evening, Cambodia head coach Felix G. Dalmas praised his players and supporters after their showing in Thursday’s 1-1 draw with Hong Kong.
“We’re not disappointed because obviously the way we tried to play was clear. It’s just like what we said. It doesn’t matter who’s in front of us, Dalmas told the Football Federation’s official page.
“[Doesn’t matter] if the other team is bigger or stronger or has more experience as players, or have played in European leagues or wherever. Cambodia will play the Cambodian style, which is taking the initiative, taking the ball away from the opposite team and always, always going forward with the ball and with courage. Not being afraid of who’s in front of you and most importantly after you make mistakes having the strength to say I’ll go again. And that’s how this team will grow and that’s what people want.”
Despite a strong start to their opener, the hosts fell behind after just 15 minutes in front of a crowd at the 60,000 Olympic Stadium. Hong Kong’s Chun Lok Tan evaded the defensive pairing of Captain Soeuy Visal and Sareth Krya to deliver the opener beyond the fingertips of keeper Keo Soksela before Keo Sokpheng rescued a point for Cambodia with a fine finish 15 minutes later.
With an estimated 50,000 officially confirmed in Phnom Penh’s Olympic Stadium, Dalmas paid tribute to the fans for their support.
“To see how many people came out to cheer for us to see what we can do and hopefully they were happy with what they saw. Of course, we’re pushing to improve and we want to do it our way but regarding the support it was amazing. Most importantly when we were one-zero down the people kept cheering and I think that’s that show something special it’s different because usually when you’re losing my people stopped cheering. Yeah, but it was fantastic that people continue to cheer and it’ll be nice for the Cambodian fans to be known to just cheer no matter what.”
Tomorrow, Cambodia welcome Bahrain for their second fixture, and Dalmas was keen to see how his youngsters would fare against the favoured Bahrainis.
“So obviously Bahrain is going to be a tough match as well. Like they’re physically stronger and very fast. Their players are playing at a very high level. They have a very good coach as well and obviously they got to draw against Iraq so they’ll be another challenge for us. But it’s good for us to compete against higher level teams.”
“What we want to do, and I’ve repeated this many times, but whether we play Bahrain, Iraq, Iran, Brazil or France. We will try to play our way. And That’s something that’s really important. We really don’t want to be afraid of who is in front of us. So, we showed against Hong Kong. We will try to do it again against Bahrain and we will do it again as many times as we need.”