Phnom Penh Crown will stage a press conference tomorrow morning at 11am to announce their new squad for the coming season, including 13 new signings, as well as presenting their new playing kit and sponsors, their 2012 Academy plans and other club news that includes a new Crown-branded restaurant opening soon opposite the Olympic Stadium. Their 23-man squad for the Hun Sen Cup, which starts against Kratie on Thursday this week, includes 10 players remaining from last season's squad, of which only four were regular members of the team that won the C-League Championship (namely Tiny, Dara, Sokumpheak and Sok Pheng). So whichever way you look at it, Crown's team this season is going to be a work in progress from day 1. They certainly don't possess the experienced campaigners that the club boasted last season.
The Hun Sen Cup group matches begin on Wednesday this week. The top eight teams in last year's C-League meet the eight qualifiers from the five regional groups from round 1 of the competition. On Wednesday and Thursday, there will be two games per day at both the Army Stadium and at the Olympic Stadium. In Group A on Wednesday, Chhlam Samuth meet Battambang and Pailin face the might of Naga at Olympic, whilst at the Army Stadium, also known as the Old Stadium, AEU meet the Army and Kirivong face Kampot in Group B. On Thursday, BBU take on Stung Treng, whilst Preah Khan Reach meet Koh Kong, at Olympic in Group C. The 2pm kick-off at Army Stadium will be Phnom Penh Crown against Kratie, followed by the other Group D match, National Police against Boeung Ket Rubber Field. Matches continue for each team with 3 games spaced over five days. The qualifiers move onto the quarter-finals which will take place on 8 February, the semi-finals two days later and the final on 12 February. That's 32 matches squeezed into twelve days of competition. I hope the players are up to the task. The football federation have not exactly given anyone much breathing space.