Under instructions from its newly appointed South Korean head coach, the team named at the eleventh hour by the National Olympic Committee to represent Cambodia at the Southeast Asian Games resumed training Monday after a weekend break.
The new team, comprised of 16 players from the national league team Khemara—supported by National Assembly and Olympic Committee President Prince Norodom Ranariddh—and four players from the original national team, will have better chances at the games, the team’s manager Lah Salakhan said.
“Cambodians think that my team is better than the national team,” Lah Salakhan said.
“The national team had some problems,” he said.
In a Sunday statement, Prince Norodom Chakrapong, adviser to Prince Ranariddh, blasted what he called the “catastrophic performance achieved by the Cambodian national team during the last few years.”
Prince Chakrapong also alleged that the national team faced other problems.
“We thought it was necessary to change the players as well as the management, both of whom by the way were often related by personal or parental links,” the statement claimed.
Som Saran, a former national team player and coach for the team at the 2004 Tiger Cup, suggested that corruption might have been an issue for the national side.
“I accept that there is corruption in the national team but we have no proof,” he said, adding that taking bribes had been a problem for several years.
“When the team went out to play outside the country they always made corruption. In Vietnam, I told them not to sell the nation, they still did,” Som Saran said.
After the SEA Games in 2003 in Vietnam, an investigation was conducted following allegations that nine players phoned in bets against their own side.
The allegations were investigated and later rejected by the Cambodian Football Federation.
Hok Sochivoan, who has played on the national team since 2001 but was not picked for the new team, denied the corruption allegations.
“I think we don’t have any corruption on the national team. We have managers. They control us very closely,” he said.