Cambodia SEA Games football team promised big bucks

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Cambodia's newly appointed Brazilian coach Leonardo Vittorino

Cambodia’s newly appointed Brazilian coach Leonardo Vittorino.

Cambodia’s newly appointed Brazilian coach Leonardo Vittorino sees a bright future for football in the country and can expect some surprises from the team in the 29th Sea Games in Kuala Lumpur.

The “Koupreys” (Wild Buffalo) as the team is known, open their campaign on Tuesday with a match against the Philippines at the Selayang Stadium.

The others teams in the group are Vietnam, defending champions Thailand, Timor Leste and Indonesia.

Vittorino took over the hot seat in March from Korean Lee Tae-hoon and during the short span of time has brought some positive results – including a win over Afghanistan at home in AFC Asian Qualifier in June and drew scoreless with China in the AFC Cup Under-23 championships preliminaries and beat the Philippines but it was not good enough to make the Finals.

However, Vittorino sees “many positives” in the Cambodian team which has been promised big bucks if they do well in the Kuala Lumpur Sea Games.

Prime Minister Hun Sen has promised S1,000 each for a win apart from the S10,000 if they strike gold. The silver medal is worth $7,500 and the bronze $4,000.

The Angkor Beer Company will sponsor $5,000 if they reach semi-finals. Winning the gold is worth $8,000, silver ($5,000) and bronze ($3,000).

The Cambodian media reported that “lack of experience” is Cambodia’s main drawback but there are several individuals who could win matches for the team.

Among the names are Noun Borey, Sok Samnang, In Sodavid, Brak Thiva and Chreng Polroth.

“We have never beaten Afghanistan before, never drawn with a strong team like China. We have the potential but need to work hard to harness it well,” said Vittorino.

Cambodia plays Vietnam on Aug 17, Thailand (Aug 20), Timor Lester (Aug 22) and Indonesia (Aug 24). – BY RIZAL ABDULLAH

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