Cambodia ace Vathanaka chases J3 start in Japan after making debut
Cambodia's star playmaker Chan Vathanaka will be hoping for more game time between now and the end of the year after making a low-key league debut for Japanese side MYFC Fujieda on Sunday.
Vathanaka came off the bench with just three minutes remaining of the J3 clash at home to Sagamihara.
With such limited time to impress in the 1-1 draw, the on-loan Cambodian will be keen to take a bigger step when his side travel to face league leaders Tochigi on Saturday. There are just six games of the league season remaining to make an impact.
Vathanaka made the loan move from Boeung Ket Angkor in January and has had to wait a long time for his opportunity. However, the 23-year-old's prospects of a permanent move to Japan appear slim, with his current club showing little faith in the Southeast Asian star.
MYFC Fujieda sit comfortably in mid-table and face neither a relegation battle nor a fight for promotion to J2. As a result, now is the perfect time to give Vathanaka one final opportunity to demonstrate that he has what it takes to succeed in Japan.
Cambodia's best known player already has 35 caps for his country and announced himself to the whole of Southeast Asia when he scored twice in a 3-2 defeat to Malaysia in the 2016 AFF Suzuki Cup.
But he has been unable to help lift his country to new heights, with the recent 5-0 defeat to Vietnam in AFC Asian Cup qualification spelling the end of head coach Leonardo Vitorino's time in charge.
In the event that Vathanaka's loan deal is not extended, Southeast Asian clubs will surely consider making a move for him.
In 2018, Thai League clubs have an allocated spot in their squads for a player from an ASEAN country, while the Malaysian Super League is expected to follow suit.
Bangkok-based Paul Murphy has lived in Asia for a decade, writing for ESPN FC since 2014. He is a former Daily Express sub-editor. @PaulMurphyBKK