Cambodia entered Asia's qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ aiming to make a breakthrough, having failed to progress beyond the first round in their bids for the past five editions. Their hopes materialised when they defeated Macau 4-1 over two legs to reach the second round in continental qualifying for the first time.
Cambodia's hopes of going further were dealt a blow when Chhunly Pagenburg, arguably the team's biggest star, who boasts spells at FSV Frankfurt and FC Nuremberg on his resume, announced his retirement from football due to injury. Filling the void is vice-captain Khoun Laboravy, who sealed the famous 3-0 win against Macau, while skipper Kouch Sokumpheak remains the man pulling the strings.
Kazunori Ohara took over as interim coach replacing Korean Lee Taehoon, who oversaw the team's aggregate victory against Macau. Notable in the Japanese's coaching CV is a three-year tenure in charge of Bhutan from 2012-14.
1 - Cambodia registered their maiden qualifying victory on the road to Brazil 2014, beating neighbouring Laos 4-2 at home only to lose out 6-2 away as they crashed out in unexpected fashion.
The former stars
Hok Sochetra, Chhunly Pagenburg