Cambodia have long been regarded as underdogs even in regional competition but few could have imagined that football in the country had enjoyed a golden period in 1960's and 1970's when they were among Asia's elite. Their ultimate honour came in the 1972 AFC Asian Cup which saw the tiny ASEAN team surprise even their own supporters by finishing in fourth place.
The promising momentum didn't last long with the country's football development ravaged by the civil war. Despite the difficulties, however, Cambodia's football team has actually improved quite a bit over recent times. Despite finishing bottom of their 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan™ qualifying group with China, Indonesia and Maldives, they bravely held Maldives to a 1-1 draw in their second match, after losing their opener 6-0 to the same side.
The fact remains that Cambodia, despite the football-mad tradition, have never made an impact on either continental or regional stages since the 1970's. They failed to progress beyond the opening round in the ASEAN Football Championship (previously known as Tiger Cup) in 2000 and 2004 before they stumbled in qualifying for the region's showpiece event in 2007.
The team will have a mountain to climb when they open the qualifying preliminaries for 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ against Turkmenistan on 8 October. However, under coach Scott O'Donnell, the young team could at least draw inspiration from striking veteran and top striker Hok Sochetra, who has 42 international goals to his name.