Cambodia are red-hot favorites to make the Standing Volleyball World Cup semi-finals on Friday after a brilliant 3-1 win over the world’s number one ranked team, Canada, in Phnom Penh’s Olympic Stadium on Wednesday afternoon.
An uproarious crowd of over 1,000 people clapped and banged every available surface as a determined and very focused Cambodian side ground down a game Canadian team in just over 90 minutes of play.
Cambodia are expected to beat India, who they hammered 3-0 on Saturday in a quarter final today before they take a shot at Slovakia, who narrowly beat Cambodia earlier this week, on Friday.
In Wednesday’s clash, Cambodia took the first set against Canada with some ease, but lost the second, with the Canadian’s giant center Greg Stewart causing the home side some problems.
But Cambodia fought back to win the third set 25-17 and showed more energy than their opponents to take the final set 25-19.
Players Mean Veasna and Cheam Phan stood out among the Cambodians but team coach Christian Zepp attributed the win to a great all-around group performance.
“I’m really proud the way we fought today and we are improving all the time,” Zepp said after the game.
“We worked really well as a team and it is a great achievement to beat the world number one,” he said.
Cambodian captain Chim Chandry said the team was thrilled to have won and belief was growing that they could win the tournament outright.
“We have a good coach and great support and we are confident we can beat India,” said the 43-year-old from Siem Reap province, who lost an arm in a landmine accident in 1987.
Cambodia started the tournament well on Saturday, beating India, but went down narrowly to Germany and Slovakia in subsequent games, before beating Poland on Tuesday night.
The final of the weeklong tournament will take place Saturday.
Cambodia’s progress is good for the whole tournament, said Athanasios Papageorgiou of the German team, who will likely be Cambodia’s opponents in the final if the home team gets that far.
“The event has been a great success so far,” Papageorgiou said.