It was a night billed as the biggest in football history for the country of Cambodia. A competitive semi final and a serious chance of winning a medal. The only obstacle in our way was Vietnam and unfortunately they’re not any normal obstacle and on a overcast Friday night in Phnom Penh our girls were well beaten.
A major gulf in class… .
Previous meetings with Vietnam had ended with 17 goals against and zero scored. That was just two games. No one in reality expected us to overcome our greatest rivals but the romance of the games and our greatest ever performance, one could be forgiven for believing.
Unfortunately that belief was short-lived when Vietnam took control of the game early on making it 1-0 on 20 minutes. The Khmers had been sloppy in possession and giving Vietnam too much time to pick their passes and dictate play. Was it the occasion? Was it fear? A little of both but all this game showed us was the gulf in class between the two nations when it comes to football.
It was 2-0 on 30 minutes and 3-0 on 36. Half time the game was done. A spirited second half display saw us keep Vietnam at bay until the 88th minute when a second penalty was converted to make it 4-0.
The Girls Can Be Proud…
The girls have given us a rollercoaster of a ride and they’re one of the stand out stories of this competition. The girls have done themselves, their families and their nation proud. I mean actually proud. These young women have been in a training camp for 7 months, overcome some major cultural barriers and they’ve given a genuinely good account of themselves. The noise at the games I’ve been to has been incredible. They’ll play Thailand again for the bronze medal on Monday and regardless of the outcome of that game these girls can hold their heads up high.
The Foundations Are In Place… .
What Cambodia cannot do is waste this momentum. The world cup and Olympics are right round the corner and Cambodia will want to gatecrash both of those parties. The concern will always be what happens next? Mens football is in turmoil with clubs going out of business and a dismal display at these games. They will still get all the attention and the best part of any funding provided. This is of course absolutely ridiculous but true all over the world when it comes to football. These girls and the younger women all over the country who wish to wear the nations flag on their heart have to be given the best conditions to do so. That’s starts with attention and access.
This article is adapted from BPVE, (https://bpve.com/) reported and edited from the great team – Cambodia Sports Review. (https://www.cambodiasportsreview.com/)
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