Monday, December 17, 2012

All change, again

The fall-out from the football federation's late decision to enter the AFC Challenge Cup afterall - they initially said they were pulling out to concentrate on grassroots football and because they didn't have the money - is just about to be felt in domestic football circles. The appointment of Prak Sovannara as the head coach and his notice that fifty players were in line for what are effectively national team trials, have prompted the federation to muck about with the start of the Metfone C-League season. It was due to begin on 1 January with Phnom Penh Crown facing BBU, but that's been canned by the FFC and they've announced that it will not start until 12 January and after that, only at the weekends until the AFC Challenge Cup competition has been completed. In the next ten days the trials will take place and Sovannara will reduce his squad to a final thirty by the end of the year, when the national team will get together for a squad training session for four days. These squad sessions will then happen three days a week; Monday, Tuesday and Friday. Players will be released to train/play with their club teams on Wednesday and Thursday (the day set aside for Hun Sen Cup matches, which will continue unaffected) and at weekends (C-League matches). In effect, depriving the clubs of their best players for a substantial part of the next two months and giving club coaches a real headache in terms of suitable preparation and tactics before league and cup matches. And that's if the players return from national duty without injury. There was no consultation with the clubs as far as I know. It's simply a done deal. For Phnom Penh Crown, it will mean re-scheduling four C-League matches against BBU, National Police, Preah Khan and AEU.

Other news to come out today concerns the Cambodia national team. The plan is to play a friendly, maybe two, against the visiting Ulsan University team in the first week of January. All squad training sessions will be at either the Olympic Stadium or Crown's RSN Stadium, on the days I've listed above, until the squad enter a training camp from 17-24 Feb, either at Tonle Bati or abroad, playing a series of four or five practice matches. They will have another friendly on 25 Feb in Phnom Penh before departing for the AFC Challenge Cup qualifying group in Philippines on 27 Feb. They will then meet Turkmenistan on 2 Mar, Philippines on 4 Mar and Brunei on 6 Mar, hoping to gain one of the qualification places.

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