Friday, March 1, 2013

Time to gel

Will Kouch Sokumpheak (10) feature in the national team? Pic: Bunsak But/NagaCorp
The Cambodian national team have been in squad training a few times each week for a while now and get to strut their stuff in a friendly match on Wednesday 6 March at the Olympic Stadium, when they take on the Malaysian U-23s, with a 4pm kick-off. The Malaysians have been offering their services for match practice with other national teams and in the past week have drawn 0-0 with Myanmar and 3-3 with Laos. With the Cambodians gearing up for the AFC Challenge Cup qualification games to be held in the Philippines between 22-26 March, matches like these are vital for coach Prak Sovannara to gel a starting line-up from his squad. Now that Kouch Sokumpheak and Khuon Laboravy have returned to league action with their respective clubs, the pressure will be on Sovannara to include them in his plans. A training squad of 30 players will have to be reduced soon enough. Cambodia take on Turkmenistan (22 Mar), host country Philippines (24 Mar) and Brunei (26 Mar).

News leaked out today that Cambodia looks certain to host the SEA Games in 2023, exactly ten years from now. This will be a massive undertaking by the country to get their sports facilities up to scratch as well as their human resources, but they have a decade to do it and will need considerable input and finance from the government and outside sources. Myanmar are hosting the SEA Games this year - they are held every two years - with Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei to follow. And now it looks like Cambodia will be doing the honours in 2023. I went to the SEA Games in Laos and I know how big a job it is to get it right.

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