|Standing for the national anthem. LtoR: Kouch Sokumpheak, David Booth, Khiev Sameth, Rithy Samnang|
Next Saturday will see the start of this season's AFC President's Cup competition, with the Group Stage qualifying matches in Group B kicking-off in Phnom Penh. Last year Phnom Penh Crown progressed to the final stages after successfully negotiating the Group Stage that was played at the Olympic Stadium for the very first time. They will be hoping that lightening strikes twice. This morning's press conference at the Phnom Penh Hotel was the formal announcement of the programme of six matches on 5, 7 and 9 May by the club president Rithy Samnang, accompanied by Khiev Sameth of the FFC, Crown's head coach David Booth and club captain Kouch Sokumpheak. The three visiting teams, from Bhutan, Kyrgyzstan and Nepal, will arrive later in the week and another press conference with representatives from all four teams will be held on Friday, immediately after the Team Managers meeting. This morning's session was introduced by Rithy Samnang with Khiev Sameth also commenting, whilst David Booth and Kouch Sokumpheak answered questions from the attending journalists. Eight televisions stations were present as well as online and written media. All were given a written press release with the schedule of matches, etc.
The key elements of David Booth's replies to questions were: "We know how to prepare, we've done it before. We don't need to take the players away from their families as we train every day, it's important for the players to stay in their regular environment, and to keep them comfortable and to maintain team spirit...We've got to forget last year, that's finished, we now have a new challenge and our players have to be up for it. We did very well last year to get to the final, and now we have a big challenge this year to beat that. We've had a big turnaround in players but over the past month it is starting to gel. We can look forward to the competition with confidence, as the players are showing a lot more ability. It's taken 3-4 months and it's now coming together at just the right time. It doesn't happen overnight, it takes time to develop but they are all striving to get better."
|Kouch Sokumpheak making notes during the press conference|
|Kouch Sokumpheak and David Booth at the top table|
|Rithy Samnang, Kouch Sokumpheak and Khiev Sameth look at the new television commercial that has been produced for this year|