Cambodians can be excused for feeling somewhat dejected after their national football team received a drubbing at the hands of Iran in the second qualifying round of the Qatar 2022 Fifa World Cup on Thursday (Oct 10), but the off-field performance of one die-hard fan should cause them to be proud.
Outplayed by a stronger, faster, and more skilled opponent, ranked number one in Asia by FIFA, the ‘Angkor Warriors’ (Warriors) went down 14-0. The biggest losing defeat in their history.
As Iranian football fans cheered and celebrated with each goal, one lone Khmer remained loyal and steadfast to the end.
Standing almost alone in the section of seating reserved for Cambodian supporters, the individual, whose identity is not known, was caught briefly on television cameras cheering the Warriors on right up until the final whistle.
Wearing a traditional Cambodian Krama (scarf) and armed with a bass drum and two smaller drums, in addition to a megaphone, Cambodia’s most dedicated football fan can be seen in the video pouring all of his energy into urging his team on.
In other video of the game he can be seen just as enthusiastically supporting the Warriors, despite a superimposed match score show the game at 14-0.
As can be the seen in the comment attached to the video, while the Warriors may have turned in a less than stellar performance, Cambodia’s most dedicated football fan was a star: his tireless performance and defiance, even in the face of defeat, beamed around the world to see and truly a deserving recipient of a Best of the AEC title from us. Whether he will receive any other recognition is not known.
While the Warriors loss was large, it isn’t the highest losing margin in the history of the Fifa World Cup.
In April 2001 the Australian national team defeated the American Samoa national squad 31-0 in a qualifying match for the 2002 FIFA World Cup in Coffs Harbour, with a some long standing records being smashed in the process.
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Ranked 169 in the world, the Warriors will host Iraq at Phnom Penh’s Olympic Stadium next Tuesday (Oct 15). The loss to Iran is the team’s second for the series, having played a 1-1 draw against Hong Kong and lost 1-0 to Bahrain previously.
In 2018 the Angkor Warriors lost all eight of their eight World Cup qualifying matches, making the dedication and enthusiasm of the man in the stadium even more impressive.
The Iran-Cambodia game was also the first occasion on which female Iranian football fans could watch their national team play in a FIFA World Cup.
Female spectators have been barred from stadiums in Iran for almost 30 years and when tickets went on sale last week 3,500 were sold within one hour. Thousands of other female Iranian football fans turned up at the stadium hoping to be allowed in to the 80,000-seat capacity stadium, which television broadcasts showed had large empty sections for the duration of the match.
- Angkor Warriors have it all to do against Asia’s very best (Khmer Times)
- Cambodia face daunting test against Iran (The Phnom Penh Post)