With the main focus for the Cambodian national team on the AFF Suzuki Cup in October this year, another international competition has just been added to the schedule. However, its not for the full Cambodian team but at the Under-22 age level. It's the newly-formed AFC U-22 Asian Cup 2013, which the AFC are saying will become one of the most important international tournaments in Asia. The draw for the qualification groups, seven in total, was made earlier today and Cambodia, one of 41 countries taking part, was drawn in Group F of the East Asia region, along with DPR Korea, China PR, Thailand, Hong Kong and Laos. The qualifying group matches will begin in late June 2012 and into July, midway through the Metfone C-League campaign. Cambodia were not one of the seeded teams and though highly improbable that they will appear, the finals of the competition, with sixteen teams, will be held in June 2013. There is no mention yet of where these qualifying matches will take place. The preparation for the upcoming Brunei U-21 tournament (end of this month) has already disrupted the pre-season programme for some clubs and this new competition looks set to do the same during the C-League campaign, whenever it finally gets underway.
Talking of the pointless Hassanal Bolkiah Trophy tournament for U-21 players from eleven countries (plus 5 overage players allowed in each squad) in Brunei, the Cambodian squad of 18 players has been announced. Their first game is against Vietnam on 24 Feb; then 26 Feb versus Malaysia; 2 Mar v Timor Leste; 4 Mar v Thailand. The squad includes 7 players from Preah Khan Reach (Sophea, Sothearoth, Daravorn, Rithy, PM Udom, Vathanaka, Saray), 6 from Army (Yaty, Khemarin, U Dara, Chhoeurn, Phearith, Soksana), 2 from Police (Piseth, Srey Udom) and 1 apiece from Boeung Ket (Pancharong), BBU (Sothearath) and Naga (Vathanak). No PPCFC players were involved in the build-up for the tournament and therefore not considered.