Tuesday, March 6, 2012

C-League pressures

With Phnom Penh Crown getting the nod to host Group B of the AFC President's Cup Qualifying Stage between 3-13 May, then the football federation here are going to have to do some fancy footwork to re-schedule quite a few matches in the Metfone C-League. The Olympic Stadium will accommodate the AFC President's Cup games, all six of them, so potentially up to 9 C-League matches will have to be shifted away from the Olympic Stadium and moved to the Army Stadium during the quoted time-frame. That 10-day period is double what was required for last season's qualifying matches in the same competition, which were all completed over the space of five days.

Another competition which will impact on the C-League this year is the brand new AFC U-22 Asian Cup qualifiers. Cambodia have been drawn in the same group as North Korea, China, Thailand, Hong Kong and Laos and the round-robin matches are scheduled for 23 Jun-3 July, again smack bang in the middle of the second half of the C-League. Another 9 games could be impacted by players leaving their clubs to join up with the Cambodian U-22 squad, at a time when the league competition is in full flow and clubs will be loathe to release their youngsters. I can see a certain amount of friction between the domestic clubs and the FFC on the horizon. Which club, gunning for the league title (actually they'll be aiming for a top-four finish to enter the Super 4 play-off), will want to lose their best players to an U-22 international competition, and with the national team needing the players in the lead up to the qualifying games, some clubs might be without them throughout June. We've already had disruptions caused by the meaningless invitational tourney in Brunei, with a subsequent delay to the start of the C-League, and now another series of international age-level matches will have an even bigger impact on the league this term. This fixture clash is something the FFC have to look seriously at and possibly extend the season, though they will not want to do that, as it will lessen the time available for the full national team to prepare for their AFF Suzuki Cup qualifiers in October. The football calendar in Cambodia is getting fuller by the minute.

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