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Hockey team not discouraged by early qualifying losses

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Cambodian women hockey players (in blue) try to take the ball from a Hong Kong opponent during their 2022 Asian Games qualifier in Indonesia on June 6. SUPPLIED

Hockey team not discouraged by early qualifying losses

The Cambodian women’s hockey team said their players were not overwhelmed or discouraged following back-to-back losses in the ongoing qualifying tournament in the Indonesian capital Jakarta. The team needs to finish in the top 4 of the seven nations playing, in order to secure a place in the 2022 Asian Games.

Kaing Sothea, head of the Cambodian delegation to the competition, said: “Both the team and the coaching and management staff remain focused and willing to compete. We respect the rules and regulations of the game and will continue to play willingly, despite our poor results in our first two matches.”

As secretary-general of the Cambodian Hockey Federation, Sothea added: “The team is not discouraged at all. We know that we have to play to the best of our abilities and with mastery of our technique – no matter which team we meet. We have to play as many games as possible so we can get an understanding of our own levels, and to learn how we ought to develop our style of play. We also learn what to change and what areas we need to train harder in to correct our mistakes.”

In its opening match of the tournament – on June 6 – the Hong Kong women’s team had the measure of the Kingdom’s women, beating them 5-0. The following day, it was Sri Lanka’s turn to inflict a second defeat on the Cambodian team. Again, the score line was a disappointing 5-0.

These consecutive defeats have all but guaranteed that the Cambodian team will be unable to find a path to a top 4 finish, meaning they are unlikely to appear at this year’s Asian Games, to be held in China.

However, the results reflect impressive growth in the skill levels and professionalism of the sport in the Kingdom. In 2013, Cambodia lost to the women of Hong Kong 14-0 and were absolutely humiliated by Sri Lanka, going down 27-0. In 2016, Sri Lanka were only able to score 13 goals, taking the margin down by half. This year’s 5-0 loss represents a similar narrowing of the margin.

“The Cambodian Hockey Federation never wants to see a loss, but if we consider our previous record against Hong kong, it is clear that our technique and gamesmanship is clearly developing. As our skills improve, so too do our result,” said Sothea, following this year’s loss to Hong Kong.

In the next round, Cambodia will play Kazakhstan on June 9 and Singapore a day later, before taking on Uzbekistan on June 13 and hosts Indonesia in the final match on June 14. Sothea warned that all four of Cambodia’s next opponents are considered favourites to defeat the Kingdom’s women. Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Indonesia have all inflicted heavy defeats recently.

However, ahead of the upcoming games, he said: “If we do not try to play to the best of our ability and force the other team to play to their, we will not learn their true strength. Both the coaches and the management team urge our hockey team to give it everything. Let’s find out where our weaknesses and strengths are.”

“Whether we face Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, the hosts Indonesia or any other team, we are not afraid or worried, we remain strong and competitive – and committed to testing ourselves against the best,” she added.

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