French journalist Thibault Bourru on his experience at the Cambodia National Team matches

មាស សុផាណារ៉ុង September 11, 2019


Phnom Penh៖ Thibault Bourru described his experience during Cambodia National Team matches in their 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers second round as ‘unbelievable’ after sitting among several thousands of supporters at the National Olympic Stadium.

The French journalist, who has worked for Le Petit Journal Cambodge (French media) after arriving Cambodia few years ago, went to Cambodia’s first two home matches in the Group C of the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers second round and was impressed by the atmosphere at the National Olympic Stadium.

Thibault Bourru told “It’s really fascinating to find, 12,000 km far from my home, but with the same passion for football. The crowd around the stadium, the traffic jam, the food and drink sellers near the gates, and everything is similar. I love it as it’s an atmosphere I need. Of course, the culture here is different than in France, but football is football, and I realize that the whole world can be understood through this sport. It’s unbelievable.

“I’ve already seen a few matches of the Cambodian national team at the National Olympic Stadium in Phnom Penh since I arrived in 2017, but I was always in the VIP stand. Against Hong Kong and Bahrain, it was the first time I went to the popular stands with the fans. It is a real opposite experience. It was a great atmosphere as the stadium was full with more than 55,000 people.

“I felt a great passion from the fans for the Cambodian national team. The change of philosophy and behavior seen on the pitch must have something related to it. The big difference I have seen from my experience in European stadiums is that the one in Phnom Penh is very open, which allows you to breathe better but reduces the volume of the atmosphere.

“Yes, I expected it [huge number of fans] because to be honest I had already seen videos of matches of the Cambodian national team before going to the stadium for the first time. Football, by its nature, is a popular entertainment, and it is a sport that must be at the service of the fans. The national team is a great feeling of pride for Cambodians, so it is very important.

“What probably surprised me the most was the extreme difference between the passion for the national team and the passion for clubs in Cambodia. I interviewed Thierry Bin when I arrived here, and he taught me that, and it’s true. I was surprised because in France the passion for clubs is as strong as or even sometimes stronger than for the national team.

“The first match I went to see here was Cambodia against Jordan in November 2017. At that time, I saw a team on the pitch that might be made up. I’m not even sure of the country’s best eleven players, but that had no football identity. Football is not an individual sport, so it is not a preconceived idea – no matter how many of the 11 best individuals you have on the pitch, if you have no tactical intelligence, you will give the fans a total fiasco. And as I said before, for me it’s for them that you have to play football, especially when it comes to the national team.”

With two matches down and six to go, Cambodia sit in the fourth place in Group C after a draw with Hong Kong (1-1) and a 1-0 defeat to Bahrain.


By: Sophak Huy