Wednesday, January 25, 2012
Mickey Mouse trophy
The Mickey Mouse Hassanal Bolkiah Trophy is looming large on the horizon. It's the U-21 competition that isn't for U-21s, that will be held in Brunei next month, and which has convinced the Cambodian football federation to reduce the Hun Sen Cup to a ridiculous fiasco. Cambodia are sending their U-21 team with five overage players (which is allowed under the HBT rules) and will have warm-up matches against Ulsan University from South Korea this Friday (27 Jan at 4pm) and Sunday (29 Jan at 4pm). Both games will be at the Olympic Stadium. The FFC are then squeezing the Hun Sen Cup into a 12-day window from 1 February to accommodate this biennial Asean tournament, which actually means that the two teams who reach the Hun Sen Cup final will play a match every two days, at a time when players are in pre-season preparation. That will then leave the national team coach, Lee Tae-Hoon, with a few days to coax his team into shape and take off, ready to begin their HBT games from 25 Feb-9 March. It will also allow Preah Khan Reach the time to compete in the Malaysian FA Cup on 18 Feb. The HBT tournament organisers have just extended the timeline of the competition as they realise they have to shoe-horn in 28 games with 11 teams taking part. Cambodia are sending their U-21 team, with the overage additions, whilst other countries such as Vietnam and Malaysia have confirmed they will be despatching their U-19 starlets. Squads will be 18-players strong, though only three overage players can take part in matches. I am still bewildered that the FFC have crammed their premier cup competition into a ludicrous timeframe, simply so the U-21s can take part in this meaningless competition. The overriding focus for the Cambodian national team this year must be qualification into the final stages of the AFF Suzuki Cup in October. There's a case to be made that this U-21 competition will help towards that, but it's a case with holes in it, as the best Cambodian players are simply not involved.