The Timorese Invasion of Cambodian Football

CPL’s International Stars Head Off For Duty

The 2023-24 Cambodian Premier League season will see a record 3 players from Timor-Leste take part, with rumors of at least two more potentially joining. How though did this come to pass and who exactly are they?

To read about the Cambodian Premier League click here.

The 2022 AFF Under 22 Championship

It would be fair to say that players from Timor-Leste were not exactly on the radars of Cambodian clubs before the 2022 AFF Championships, which were held in Cambodia.

Here Timor-Leste not only put up a great performance by coming third, but even knocked out Cambodia on the way. At the forefront of this was Mouzinho….

Mouzinho moves to Angkor Tiger

Following the Mouzinho led heroics of Timor-Leste I remember personally talking to a few CPL coaches about his ability, only to be told by a few not to be named managers that he probably “could not cut it in Cambodia”. Said managers have since eaten their words a little.

He ended up moving to Tiger and arguably forming part of the most exciting front 3 in the top-tier during 2022.

Sadly Tiger could not keep hold of him and he has since moved to big speaking Visakha FC, where he is expected to play an integral part in the upcoming season. And it was this success combined with a few other factors that would open up the chances for a number of other players and even coaches.

To read our interview with Mouzinho click here.

Jhon moves to ISI

When visiting the Timor-Leste hotel during the SEA Games one had to dodgy not only a rather dull coach, but also a number of scouts, agents and managers looking to sign players.

One of hottest on the list was forward Jhon Frith, who had at least 3 clubs in both divisions vying for his services. In the end it was newly promoted and big spending ISI that secured his services, and he is expected to excel in the upcoming season.

BPVE were early spotters of his potential and you can read our interview with him here.

Zenivio Mota to Kirivong

Zenivo Mota, more commonly known as Zenivio was slightly more of a surprising signing, having largely slipped under the radar of most clubs.

The talented striker though has scored goals at all levels for Timor-Leste, as well as for his former club side SLB Benfica, with whom he scored 10 goals in 30 matches. Kirivong will no doubt hope he can find the back o the net in Cambodia if they are to avoid last place again.

What all the Timorese signings?

Mostly it can be put down to how well Timor-Leste have performed internationally, with the current crop being seen as a “golden generation” within the country. Mouzinho in particular is a house hold name within the county of 1.4 million people, with many, us included predicting the young forward will go on to much greater things.

His performances and indeed his professionalism has no doubt acted as a firm advertisement for signing of players from the small republic.

Another ket factor though has probably been the unexpected close economic and political ties that have bloomed between the two countries. Cambodia were pivotal in securing ASEAN membership for Timor-Leste during their chairing of the block and President Ramos-Horta has made a number of state visits to Cambodia since being elected last year.

To read about his visit click here.

And with the transfer window still open don’t be supersede if a few more players make the transition to the real Kingdom of Smiles.

This article is adapted from BPVE, ( reported and edited from the great team – Cambodia Sports Review. (
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