The Cambodian National Football Team, with Keisuke Honda as their manager, have decided not to call up the three overage players who are eligible to join the under-23 squad for their trip to the 31st Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) in Vietnam in May.
Assistant coach Phea Sopheaktra said the reason for omitting the older players is because their main objective is to give chances to younger players to strengthen their abilities. The team is not just focused on the upcoming games, but also on the journey to next year’s 32nd SEA Games, which the Kingdom will host.
“As you can tell from the list of players we posted, we have not registered any overage players as we have chosen to play a longer game and focus on 2023 in Cambodia,” he told The Post on Monday.
The player list for the under-23 team for this year’s 31st Sea Games was released by the Football Federation of Cambodia on Monday morning. There are 26 players in total, with some notable changes from the squad that played in the AFF U23 Championship 2022, which was hosted in Phnom Penh recently. Koy Salim, Art Ountoch, Ni Sokry, Seath Barang, Leng Nora, Nub Devid, Lim Arunraymin, Rath Virak, Narong Kakada, and captain Tes Sambath – who is recovering from a left knee injury – are not named on the list.
In contrast, goalkeeper Hul Kimhuy, Sieng Chanthea, Seath Nava and Tang Bunchhay of Boeung Ket, Nan Sosidan of Tiffy Army, goalkeeper Virak Dara, Ki Rina, and Sa Ty of Visakha, Chan Sarapich, Sar Rathna and Sin Sovanmakara of Prey Veng FC, Mao Piseth of Angkor Tiger, Chhoeung Visinu of Electricite du Cambodge (EDC), Choun Chanchao and Yeu Safy of Phnom Penh Crown, Min Rathnak and An Pisey of Preah Khan Reach Svay Rieng have all been called up to join the youth team.
Meanwhile, Boeung Ket’s Vang Davin, Prey Veng FC’s Voeun Va, Pem Tao Sinh, Chea Sok Meng and Phat Sokha of NagaWorld, Non Nath of Angkor Tiger, Im Sam Oun of Kirivong Sok Sen Chey, Jou Sinti of Svay Rieng and Phnom Penh Crown’s young striker Lim Pisoth – who returned from injury to score in last weekend’s match – have also been summoned to prepare for the SEA Games, and will be training together.
The 26 players who were selected from the initial pool of 50 will be further reduced to 20 for this year’s games. The final 20 will be announced on May 2 before the Young Kouprey depart for the regional games. There’s the possibility of additional changes, as there are allowances in place for pandemic-related issues.
“There were 50 players in the initial list. We have summoned 26 of them for training and will eliminate six of them. This will be the final 20, although we are allowed to replace anyone who returns a positive Covid-19 test with any one of the initial 50. In the case of an injured player, we cannot make any changes,” said Sopheaktra.
The Cambodian team is in Group B, which means they will open their campaign against Laos on May 9, before playing Singapore on May 11. They face Thailand on May 14, and end their group games with Malaysia on May 16. Group A features hosts Vietnam and Indonesia, Myanmar, the Philippines and East Timor.