Friday, February 24, 2012
On a whim
The Hassanal Bolkiah Trophy For Asean Youth Football Championship 2012 has started. In case you weren't aware, it's an invitational tournament for Asean countries to send their Under-21 teams, it's being hosted in Brunei and involves ten teams, following the recent withdrawal of the favourites Thailand. It began today and will finish on 9 March. When I say U-21 teams, that's not exactly true, as five over-age players are allowed in each squad of 18 players and three can play in a game. Why, I don't know and no-one can explain it either. It couldn't come at a worse time for the Cambodian League, which was due to begin on 3 March but seems likely to be put back to allow the 18 Cambodian players to return to their clubs. It's held when the whim takes them - this is the 4th time since 2002 - and with the brand new AFC U-22 tournament coming to fruition for the first time in June, with 40 countries taking part, it's a tournament that everyone could do without, especially as its disrupted the pre-season preparation of some teams. On the plus side it will give international experience to some of the younger squad players such as three of the teenagers from Preah Khan Reach. Cambodia's U-21s + 5, will start against the host nation tomorrow at 9pm Brunei time, immediately following the opening ceremony. Lee Tae-Hoon and his charges then have games against Vietnam (on Monday), Timor Leste (Wednesday) and Malaysia (Monday 5 Mar). I don't expect Cambodia to be amongst the top two teams in the two groups to progress to the semi-finals. From Cambodia's group, that will be Vietnam and Malaysia, unless there's a monumental shock of tsunami proportions. Myanmar kicked off the tourney with an 8-2 demolition of the Philippines today. You can keep up to speed as the tournament progresses here.