Southeast Asian challengers Cambodia recognise the realities and challenges ahead of them in World Cup and Asian Cup joint qualifying set to begin later this year.
The Angkor Warriors have been paired with Singapore, Afghanistan, and Syria in Group E, but their most noteworthy opponents are undoubtedly former Asian champions Japan.
“It’s insanity,” Phnom Penh Crown FC and national team member Va Sokthorn told Khmer Times. “First we will play against Singapore and Afghanistan at home in June and for me these two games will be most important for us and for our supporters.
“For our country it is a very good opportunity to play against a big team and we will learn more and for sure and develop our level.”
But the French-born midfielder clearly has his eyes on the Samurai Blue, who have already been dubbed favorites to finish on top of the group.
“About Japan, It’s amazing,” Sokthorn said, “I’m very happy for our country, because I know that many people in Cambodia love [Keisuke] Honda and [Shinji] Kagawa.
“I hope that we will be ready to give a good performance in our first match. For sure, we will work hard, train hard, to be ready.”
His teammate, Svay Rieng FC striker Prak Mony Udom, expressed similar sentiments.
“The match against Japan is exciting. We will work hard and try to do Cambodia proud,” said the 21-year old prodigy.
Kenji Yoshida, general manager of the Japanese-owned Cambodian Tiger FC – formerly known as TriAsia Phnom Penh FC – expressed enthusiasm about the home-and-away series between the two countries.
“We can guess the results, because there is a big difference between Cambodia and Japan,” Yoshida told Khmer Times. “I think this is a big opportunity for friendship between our nations and can help to introduce Cambodia to the Japanese.
“I will be supporting the Cambodian national team in Japan and have already booked a ticket to Japan for the match.”
(Contributed by Ismail Vorajee, Khmer Times)