Cambodia emerge from troubled past in hope of building football future

Hosting the Southeast Asian games was a step in the right direction in a country whose football has suffered for years.

The big European teams summer in Asia on a regular basis but never make it to Cambodia despite the fact that Phnom Penh is a more passionate football hotbed than sleek megacities such as Shanghai, Singapore and Seoul.

Cambodia is, however, slowly emerging in football with big crowds, young talent and, just this month, the hosting of the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games. This mini-Olympics for a region of 650 million has been a sign that the country can not only stage major sporting events but can challenge bigger regional rivals such as Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia on the pitch too.

It has been a long time coming but then few countries have had a harder journey. Three years after achieving independence from French Indochina in 1953, the Angkor Warriors played their first ever international against Malaysia. Just 16 years later, the team reached the last four at the 1972 Asian Cup, helped by three goals from the star striker Doeur Sokhom, losing 2-1 to eventual champions Iran.

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