Friday, March 23, 2012

Football natter

The grapevine tells me that the FFC have decided to delay the start times of the Metfone C-League matches on Saturday & Sunday this week by half an hour. The word is that it's too hot at the original 2pm kick-off, so they've put it back thirty minutes, to 2.30pm and 4.30pm respectively. How about going the whole hog and starting the first match at 4pm and the 2nd match at 6pm under floodlights. That way the teams won't be forced to play when it's hot enough to fry an egg on the roof of the substitute's bench. I haven't heard officially, but that's not surprising. There's less information coming out of the FFC than was ever released by the CIA, MI5 or the KGB at the height of their secretiveness.

I'm still agog at the non-selection of the Cambodian national coach Lee Tae-Hoon to take charge of the Cambodia U-22 squad that will compete in the brand new AFC U-22 Asian Cup Qualifying rounds in June. This man is supposed to be responsible for the national team. He's just taken charge of their dismal showing in the U-21 Brunei invitational tournament, losing four games out of four - with not a word from Lee or the FFC on their abysmal results by the way. So you'd think he'd be heavily involved in shaping the team going forwards, and finding the best young talent to mould for his AFF Suzuki Cup squad in October. Not according to the FFC. They've given the U-22s to someone else and parked Lee Tae-Hoon on the touchlines, either because he's on his way out when his contract expires in the middle of the year, or because they have completely lost the plot. I'd plump for the latter. In fact I know they lost the plot about 20 months ago when they appointed Lee in the first place. A man with no real coaching experience aside from two spells as an assistant bib-collector to the South Korean ladies team. No offence ladies, but please. With Lee out of the U-22 picture, one of the Prak family, Prak Somony has been given the task of bringing home the bacon, which of course will be an impossible task given they have games against North Korea, China, Thailand, Hong Kong and Laos. Read my lips, Cambodia will finish bottom of the group. The qualifiers begin at the end of June, yet the U-22s have already held trials and begun training sessions. Why I ask? It's March. We have just started the domestic football league, all the players are fit and well, most of the 25-man squad that the U-22s have announced played in the recent U-21 debacle, so they know each other very well. The players don't need to get together until late April at the very earliest. It's complete overkill and for a competition that they haven't got a cat-in-hell's chance of qualifying for.

I've seen the list of 25 players for this Cambodian U-22 squad. It has two Phnom Penh Crown players in it, Sok Sovan and Sos Suhana. Hong Pheng and Sok Pheng also went for trials but didn't get in. As a result Sok Pheng missed last Wednesday's game with an injury. The list has five players in it who according to a list of players' birthdates supplied by the FFC in 2009, are well over 22 years of age. All players eligible for this competition must be born on or after 1 January 1991. The five players, Prum Puthsethy, Chhun Sothearath, Touch Pancharong, Sou Yaty and Srey Udom are older than that. Presumably, there was an error back in 2009 with their birthdates and miraculously, their passports now show dates well within the deadline. How convenient. I also have serious doubts about the stated ages of players like Sok Rithy and Say Piseth. But a quick check of their passports will reveal that they really are much younger than they look. The scourge of age cheating is something that seems to forever hang around like a bad smell.

The Asian Football Confederation (AFC), the same body that Phnom Penh Crown came face to face with at close quarters in Taiwan for the AFC President's Cup Final last year and saw exactly how they operated, have had one of their meetings full of suits. The competitions committee have suggested that a country not recognised by FIFA and so they don't appear on the world rankings list, be admitted to play in next year's AFC Challenge Cup and AFC President’s Cup. The country is Northern Mariana Islands, who are an associate member of the AFC. Never heard of them? Join the club. Located in the Pacific Ocean, there are 15 islands making up the NMI, housing 50,000 people, and essentially come under the flag of the United States. Their nearest neighbours are Guam, who they play all their matches against.

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