Following hot on the heels of their next three C-League games, Crown will then host six Group A qualifying matches of the AFC President’s Cup at the Olympic Stadium in Phnom Penh, in cooperation with the Football Federation of Cambodia. This cup competition pits together the league champions of Asia’s emerging nations and it’s the first time that Cambodia has hosted such a prestigious regional competition. The league champions of Kyrgyzstan (Neftchi Kochkor-Ata), Bangladesh (Dhaka Abahani Limited) and Sri Lanka (Don Bosco SC) will be challenging Crown for the two qualifying places in the six-team finals to be played later this year.
“As far as the President’s Cup matches are concerned, we need to be in good shape physically and the players need to be focused on their job. Rest and recovery between games will be very important too, as we will play three games in five days. The Kyrgyzstan team is the overall favourite to win the tournament, not just our group. The Bangladesh team is very experienced, they hardly lose games and it will be tough against them because of that. The Sri Lankan team is at our level and because we are at home, we will be favourites to win. We play Don Bosco from Sri Lanka in the 1st game, which is very important. Normally they say that it’s important not to lose the 1st game but a victory can give a morale boost to our team, so that’s what we’ll be aiming to do."
"We meet Abahani in the 2nd match. Again, our advantage is that we are playing at home and I really hope the stadium will be full of our supporters because the game is important not only for the fans of Phnom Penh Crown but for Cambodian football overall. The support of the fans can sometimes count as a 12th man on the pitch. That's what we want to happen. Our final match will be against the Kyrgyz champions, Neftchi, who according to my sources are very fit, well disciplined and tactically good, with good foreign players and a knowledgeable coach. Their main strength is their defence, having lost only one match all of last season. I am not surprised they are seeded number 1, however their disadvantage is that they have never played club football at an international level and sometimes this can make a difference. In addition, our weather is very different from theirs, it's a little too hot for them, so we shall see how they cope with that."
The AFC President's Cup program looks like this:
21 May: 2pm: Phnom Penh Crown v Don Bosco (SRI). 4pm: Neftchi (KGZ) v Abahani (BAN)
23 May: 2pm: Don Bosco (SRI) v Neftchi (KGZ). 4pm: Abahani (BAN) v Phnom Penh Crown
25 May: 2pm: Phnom Penh Crown v Neftchi (KGZ). 4pm: Abahani (BAN) v Don Bosco (SRI)