The Cambodian U-16 squad, sorry I misspelt that, it should read the Preah Khan Reach U-16s + 4 others, are off to Laos to take part in the AFF U-16 Youth Championship and will come up against the same age level teams of the Philippines, Vietnam, Myanmar and Singapore in their group. Whilst the Preah Khan Reach presence in the full national team was pretty overwhelming, the U-16s and for that matter, all age levels, are full to brimming with players from the Military Police-backed club. If you didn't know it, you'd think they were the only club side in the country. Their players obviously impressed the U-16s national team coach who is Japanese, Daisuke Yoshioka, and who appeared to guarantee success in an article in local Khmer-language media recently. Nice to hear someone bragging about their team, it's good to have confidence, so we'll be waiting for the coach and his Preah Khan Reach boys to bring the cup back to Cambodia. If only it was that easy. When the Cambodian U-13s went to the AFC U-13 Festival of Football in Malaysia recently, they too had a squad overflowing with Preah Khan Reach youngsters but the results were so poor that nothing appeared in print after the tournament was over. Here's hoping.
Goals were the order of the day in the 2nd legs of the FIFA World Cup 2014 1st qualifying round, with Vietnam's Le Cong Vinh hitting five, to add to his hat-trick from the 1st leg, as his country demolished Macau 7-1 away from home, and 13-1 over the two legs. We already know that Laos whacked six goals past Cambodia in the 2nd leg to win 8-6 on aggregate, to turn around the result after they were beaten 4-2 in Phnom Penh a few days earlier. The official attendance in Vientiane was 9,000. China await Laos in Round 2. The Philippines defeated Sri Lanka 4-0 to progress, whilst Malaysia held their breath, losing 3-2 in Taiwan, but slip through on the away goals rule after a 2-1 success at home. They will meet Singapore next. Also scraping through were Myanmar who beat Mongolia 2-1 on aggregate. Nepal whammed in five in Timor Leste without reply to stroll through, whilst Palestine also progressed past Afghanistan, 3-1 on aggregate. Biggest crowd of the day was the 18,000 that watched Myanmar beat Mongolia 2-0. Eight round one winners join 22 higher ranked teams – including Singapore, Thailand, Maldives and Indonesia – for home-and-away matches in the second round of the Asian qualifiers, to be played later this month. The 15 victors from those ties will join Asian giants Japan, South Korea, North Korea and Australia in the third round.
Finally, nice if you can get it...the Chinese real estate company Dalian Wanda is coughing up more than $77 million over the next three years to boost China's under-performing football teams. It'll include hiring world class foreign coaches and sending young players to Europe for training. The sport has lurched from crisis to crisis in recent years with corruption scandals, match-fixing and violence on and off the pitch to blame. The good news for China is that they now have Bojan Hodak in their coaching ranks at Shandong, the likeable Croatian having left Phnom Penh Crown just over a month ago.