The wait is now over and Cambodia finally has a replacement for Coach Honda in former coach and Argentinian national Felix Dalmas.
The announcement which was made at a press conference hosted by the Football Federation of Cambodia (FFC) on the 36 floor of the impressive Vattanac Capital Building included a reintroduction of the coach, as well as an open question session for stakeholders and members of the press.
The end of the Honda Era
The announcement comes hot on the heels of Coach Honda announcing that the 2023 SEA Games, a tournament his says Cambodia can win, will be his last in charge of the national team.
The reign of Honda has been mired in controversy with him not only continuing his playing career, but also rarely watching live matches within the country. He also controversially owns former top-tier side Soltilo Angkor FC, which some have opined may have resulted in a conflict of interest.
To read the 2023 SEA Games schedule click here.
The New Felix Dalmas Era
Coach Dalmas who previously co-managed the national team with Honda from 2018-2020 was a popular figure among both fans and coaches alike, before having to leave his role due to family issues related to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Speaking to the crowd about his appointment Dalmas said “I am really happy to be back after three years to a country that I love. I have been really impressed with the progress that has been made since I was last here and I want to make this as smooth a transition as possible”.
To read about Cambodia’s last international match click here
What can we expect to change?
While praising the reign of Hondas, Coach Dalmas was also forthright in the areas he intended to improve with regards to the national team. Answering a question directly from BPVE about if he intended to be more engaging with clubs he stated “One of my first plans is to go and meet every coach in the country, so I can listen to ideas and help build a consensus in order for us to move forward”.
Another hot topic was with regards to both developments, with Phnom Penh Crown General-Manager Ly Heang asking what the new coach planned to do in this area, to which he replied ““We have good people working on this, particularly from within the clubs. We need to do more though and I want to see youth leagues in all provinces of Cambodia”.
Speaking directly to BPVE Dalmas reiterated his thoughts by adding “We need young players to be playing more, so I hope we can develop more competitions. I also feel the changes in the Hun Sen Cup rule will allow more young players to go out on loan and play more football”.
Phnom Penh Crown were recently pivotal in the setting up of the independent Smart Youth League, but overall there is a perceived lack of overall youth infrastructure and grassroots development throughout the Kingdom.
And as for his four year plan for the Cambodian national team? “We are going to work that out over the next two months, but overall I want us to challenge and give Cambodians a team they can be proud of”.
So, while it is too early to talk about success, simply having a paid manager living in the country, talking to coaches and indeed watching matches is in itself an exciting development.
This article is adapted from BPVE SPORT Cambodia, reported and edited from the great team – Cambodia Sports Review.
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