Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Playing for Cambodia

The Phnom Penh Crown U-15 Academy, expected to provide the bulk of the Cambodia U-16 squad - click to enlarge
This year will see a wealth of opportunities for the best young football talent in Cambodia to get the chance to represent their country in age group competitions at U-14, U-16 and U-19 levels. First up is the U-14 national team who will travel to Myanmar between 28 May-3 June to play in the brand new AFC U-14 Championship qualifiers. 46 nations in 8 groups with eight teams qualifying for the finals in 2014. Cambodia have been drawn into group F alongside Bangladesh, Indonesia, Laos, Singapore and Thailand. In the middle of last year, Bouy Dary, the Academy coach at Phnom Penh Crown, took charge of the Cambodia U-14 team which travelled to Malaysia to take part in the AFC U-14 Festival of Football. In their nine matches, Cambodia drew three and lost six of their games, in what Dary described as a very promising series of performances against such nations as Australia, Thailand and Vietnam. This year, the new U-14 Championship will enable at least half a dozen of that squad to try for selection again because of their tender years. There has been no news from the Federation yet as to who will be in charge.

The same goes for the Cambodia U-16 team that will travel to Napyidaw in Myanmar to take part in the AFF U-16 Championship qualifiers between 20-31 August. Cambodia are in group A with Brunei, Vietnam, Myanmar and Australia. The last time Cambodia played at U-16 level, they got walloped in the AFC U-16s under the tutelage of Daisuke Yoshioka. Again, we await the name of the coach that will be installed by the FFC. The make-up of the U-16 squad will be interesting with the Phnom Penh Crown Academy youngsters having beaten all before them on the domestic stage and having gained experience playing overseas in Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam. They should provide the bulk of the squad, though only three of them have reached their 15th birthday, most of the others are just 14. Nevertheless, only Preah Khan Reach can live with them out of the local teams, so expect PKR to supply a few squad players too. In the AFF U-19 Championship category, Cambodia will travel to Dili in East Timor between 21-28 September, having been drawn in group A with Laos, Philippines, Australia, Timor Leste and Singapore. Expect quite a few PKR names in that squad, whoever is appointed coach. Also on the horizon, in girls football, are the national championship in the middle of May, and an international tournament in late July. 

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