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Sochetra to lead Cambodia

PHNOM PENH, July 12: Hok Sochetra will take charge of Cambodia at the forthcoming AFF Suzuki Cup 2012 qualifying competition after the Football Federation of Cambodia announced that the former striker will succeed Korean Lee Tae-hoon as national coach.

Sochetra, who played 64 international matches for Cambodia from 1995 to 2003, previously coached at Cambodian clubs Samart United and Preah Khan Reach and served as an assistant coach with the national U-22 team. His elevation to the senior side followed his completion of the AFC A-licence course earlier this year.

Under Lee, Cambodia failed to qualify for the group stage of the last AFF Suzuki Cup in 2010 after being eliminated by Laos and the Philippines on goal difference in the qualifiers. Sochetra is determined not to let that happen again.

"Sure, I’m so happy for this job, but it’s not an easy job for me. I need to work hard with confidence, this is the national team," said the 37-year-old to the Phnom Penh Post.

"We will work hard together to lead the Cambodian team to the final stage of the Suzuki Cup."

Sochetra is regarded as a Cambodian football legend after scoring 42 goals during his international career including six in the Asean Football Championships in 2000 and 2002. His brace in the 3-0 win over Laos in Songkhla in 2000 helped his country to their first ever victory in the competition.

Cambodia will kick off their qualifying campaign against Timor Leste at the Youth Training Centre in Yangon on October 5. They will also face Laos (Oct 7), Brunei (Oct 9) and hosts Myanmar (Oct 11) in the round-robin competition that will determine two slots in the group stage of the AFF Suzuki Cup, which will take place in Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur from November 24 to December 1.