The big kick-off is just hours away for Phnom Penh Crown as they seek to begin the task of retaining their Metfone C-League championship for the third consecutive season. Standing between them and an opening day win are their arch rivals Preah Khan Reach, who have begun the season in high spirits, as they did last season, with success in the Hun Sen Cup competition, including a 4-0 win over Crown. A 2-1 success against Naga after extra time clinched the cup with Khuon Laboravy, their ever-present dangerman, netting 22 goals in the competition. Involvement, and defeat, in the Malaysian FA Cup followed and PKR will be determined to make a better fist of their C-League campaign this time around, finishing eleven points behind Crown in the final league table last term. Last season's matches between the two teams resulted in a 2-2 draw on the opening day of the campaign and a 1-0 win for Crown in the penultimate match.
For tomorrow's game, Crown head coach David Booth has selected a 22-man squad with no injury worries. The 'will he play, wont he play' dilemma of Khim Borey looks set to be resolved with his first appearance in a C-League match for Crown, more than a year after signing for the club. Crown have filled their quota of five foreign players, though only three are available for each C-League match with Melvin Tarley and Kingsley Njoku set to miss-out. Tarley is still getting his fitness up to speed following his arrival from the United States, whilst Njoku and fellow returnee Chan Chaya are still on the sidelines serving AFC bans of eight games and six months respectively. PKR approach the game with a few injury headaches and will be holding open trials for new foreign talent in the first week of April, after a couple of seasons without utilizing that option and concentrating solely on Cambodian players. Their policy has worked well in the locals-only Hun Sen Cup but has not succeeded in the league competition, hence their strategy re-think. The matches come thick and fast for Crown after tomorrow, with a match against newboys Western University on Sunday and then a crunch game against Naga the following Wednesday.
Crown squad for the PKR match: Ary, Oudom, Dara, Vanthan, Seyha, Rady, Da, Tiny, Sovan, Lika, Rathanak, Sophanal, Sothy, Sovanna, Suhana, Sokumpheak, Borey, H Pheng, S Pheng, Obadin, Frimpong, Asonibe.