|Months as Worst in the World :||7|
|When :||December 1995 – August 1996 (7 months)|
|All-Time Worst in the World Ranking :||25th|
|Cambodia on FIFA|
|Cambodia on AFC|
|National FA Website|
Cambodia may have been down on their luck in the early years of the world rankings, but as unlikely as it may sound they were actually a former power of the Asian game in the 1960s and early 1970s. Admittedly, that’s not a startling claim to fame in global terms, but nonetheless the national team of the Khmer Republic, as Cambodia was previously known, enjoyed a period of relative success during that era. Having been exposed to the game in the early twentieth century, much earlier than many other Asian nations – a ‘benefit’ of their French colonial past – football in Cambodia gradually gained popularity. Consequently, when many other countries in the region were still only taking up the game, Cambodian football was well organised and reached its peak with a fourth place finish in the 1972 Asian Cup. Unfortunately for them there were no world rankings in those halcyon days to record and reflect this success.
But as civil war and the over-spill from the Vietnam conflict segued into the brutal realities of the Khmèr Rouge regime under Pol Pot, football understandably became utterly unimportant. All football development was set back to zero as the country and its people were changed forever. It wasn’t until the 1990s when Cambodia would fully rejoin the football world as the long road to ruin and recovery meant that the national team didn’t play between 1974 and 1995. Once that comeback occurred, in the multi-sport South East Asian Games in December 1995, the tradition of footballing ability and relative regional excellence was long gone. What remained was a team of players who had grown up with greater worries than honing their skills with a ball. The net result when Cambodia appeared on the world rankings for the first time? A stint as the world’s worst.
They would escape after suffering eight straight defeats thanks to the system at the time of gaining ranking points even in defeat if the opposition was of a certain standard. They began their rise in late 1996 and have yet to sink so low again.
|Cambodia Article Links|
|Worst in the World Tales: Cambodia|