Monday, October 28, 2013

Praying for a miracle

The country's football fans, starved of national team action for much of the year, can get their teeth into the MRYUIFTBIDCCup2013 from this coming weekend. That mouthful is the Mekong Region Youth U23 International Football Tournament BIDC Cup 2013 to you and me. Six countries have made it, despite it being billed a few months ago as an eight-country competition including two teams from China. That didn't happen. Instead, six teams are expected though its already been made clear that only one or two of them will be bringing their SEA Games squads to Phnom Penh. Cambodia will. We'll have to wait and see who else turns up. The games start on Saturday (2 November), 2pm at the Olympic Stadium with Cambodia's U-23s meeting Malaysia at 4pm in Group B. On 6 November, again at 4pm, Laos will be Cambodia's opponents. The top two countries of each group will progress to the semi-finals on 8 November and the final will be at 4pm on Sunday 10 November. The countries in Group A are Vietnam, Thailand and Myanmar. With the football public on a life-support machine as far as the national team are concerned - Cambodia lie in 198th position in the FIFA rankings, despite not having played for ever it seems - the matches are sure to get the supporters juices flowing, though with the U-23s build-up under the leadership of Lee Tae-Hoon on his return to steer the ship, not exactly uprooting any trees, they lost twice to Phnom Penh Crown in friendlies for example, the fans will be relying on hope (and the odd miracle) rather than expectation. Everyone will be keeping their fingers and toes crossed that players like Chan Vathanaka, Chhin Chhoeun and Bin Thierry play out of their skins and deliver the goods. Home advantage could count for something, especially if the supporters turn out in force, and with the team containing a number of players who've appeared in previous SEA Games competitions, so at least have the experience that few of their opponents can match, maybe a miracle might just happen. But don't bet your house on it. I hear the team have another game lined up, against visiting Guam, on 19 November, as the countdown moves into its final stages before the squad heads off to Myanmar for the SEA Games, and an even sterner test of their credentials.

No comments: