Home > Cambodian Football League, Sport News > Interview: Former Coach Scott O’Donell on football in Cambodia

Interview: Former Coach Scott O’Donell on football in Cambodia

Scott O’Donell
Managing the national team of Cambodia presents a unique set of
challenges.  For enthusiasts of the game interested in knowing about the
challenges and explore about football in the small South East Asian
nation of Cambodia, there is no better man to talk than Scott O’Donnell.
 A former footballer for Australia, O’Donnell was at the helm of the
Cambodia national team for a twin span that lasted 4 years.  When
Sportskeeda’s Renato caught up with the former Cambodia manager,
O’Donnell spoke about his past as a footballer, mainly in Singapore
where he played in the first edition of the Professional Football
League, and matters in Cambodia.
How do you analyse your experience in Cambodia?
It was rewarding and frustrating at the same time. I enjoyed working
with the players and my coaching staff, but after the President Ravy
Khek left Cambodian Football Federation (CFF), it was increasingly
difficult to get the support from CFF. With very little development
taking place it was always going to difficult for any coach to achieve
any kind of success as the players are not taught the basics – tactical
and technical aspects of the game – at a young age.
Do you rate the work of ex-President Ravy Khek as good at CFF?   What are your impressions about Cambodian football directors?
Ravy has not been involved with CFF for a few years now. I have no further comment to make about CFF.
What is the atmosphere like in the
Cambodian League? There are many Africans playing in Cambodia. Do you
think it is positive for development of Cambodian football?
Football is by far the number one sport in Cambodia. There are many
Africans playing in the local league, unfortunately the quality of these
players is not great. I doubt most of them are Professional players as
many are no better than the local players. So I don’t think the majority
of the current crop of players are helping to develop the game in
Cambodia. If the clubs were able to sign experienced, quality
professional foreign players, then I think it would undoubtedly help the
development of the game in Cambodia.
What are your memories from the first Singaporean Professional Football League editions in 1996 and ’97?
I played for four years in the S-League. The first year was amazing
with the amount of publicity, press and TV coverage and good crowds.
Those were very exciting times to be playing in Singapore. There were
some very good foreign players and the atmosphere was great.
Unfortunately that is no longer the case. The interest in local football
has evaporated and I have to say that the quality of foreign players
leaves a lot to be desired compared to 1996.
Singapore has vision and organization and Malaysia has big
crowds and passion. Where did you enjoy working as player and coach the
Even now Malaysia is struggling with crowds. Only Selangor, Kelantan
and Terengganu manage to get good crowds these days. I enjoyed playing
in both Singapore and Malaysia. Both nations are very passionate about
football. Obviously playing in front of big crowds in Malaysia was great
from a player’s view point. I think it is very difficult at present in
Singapore to compete with the likes of the EPL and UEFA Champions
League.  Most people prefer to watch those leagues instead of the local
ones, but I think Football Association Singapore (FAS) are doing the
best to try and turn things around.  But for that to happen they need
the support of the clubs as well.
You played in Singapore against two all-time goalscoring
greats in the S-League: the Brazilian Egmar Gonçalves and the Croatian
Mirko Grabovac. Which of them was the more difficult opponent?
They were both very different players, both very good. I marked some
very good strikers in Australia and Malaysia too. Egmar was a very
consistent player for so long for Home United FC. He was strong and had
the knack of being in the right place at the right time to score so many
goals. We enjoyed some good battles on the field but I think there was
mutual respect between the two of us. Mirko Grabovac was a different
player to Egmar. Probably technically more skillful than Egmar but not
as physical or mobile, but still a very good striker.
We sincerely thank Scott O’Donnell for his valuable time and thoughts
and wish him the very best of luck in his future endeavours.
Sports Keeda
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