Cambodia

Tournament record:
Group stage 1996, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2008

Nickname:
The Royal Khmer, Angkor Warriors

National coach:
Lee Tae-hoon (South Korea)

After failing to qualify for the group stage of the last three editions of the AFF Suzuki Cup, Cambodia will be confident of getting the job done when they host this year’s qualifying tournament in Phnom Penh in October.

The Angkor Warriors narrowly missed out on qualification for the group stage in 2010 when they were pipped on goal difference by Laos and the Philippines and they hit their lowest point two years later when they lost all four of their qualifying matches in Myanmar.

While they missed out again in 2014, they showed improvement as they finished third, losing narrowly to Laos and Myanmar but producing a magnificent comeback as they came from two goals down to beat Timor Leste 3-2.

Under South Korean Lee Tae-hoon, who is in his second spell as national coach, the team have shown further signs of growth during the course of the last two years, winning friendlies against Myanmar, Brunei and Timor Leste, and beating Chinese Taipei 2-0 in June to secure a place in the qualifying round for the 2019 AFC Asian Cup.

While they lost all of their games during the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, they can take encouragement from their resolute displays in narrow losses to Afghanistan, Singapore and Japan and the large crowds that packed the 50,000-capacity Olympic Stadium in Phnom Penh to cheer them on.

Lee’s team has a youthful look with most of his players in their early 20s and forward Khoun Laboravy the oldest at the age of 27. However, they have plenty of matches together over the past couple of years and they should be well honed for action for when they host the qualifying competition.

Cambodian football may still be a long way from its glory days of the early 1970s when they reached the semi-finals of the 1972 AFC Asian Cup. However with the national team in decent form and drawing strong support, there is much to build on as Cambodia look to step up to the next level and secure a place in the tournament proper for the first time since 2008.
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