Friday, August 15, 2014

Sam on the Mekong Cup

Sam Schweingruber - by Masayori Ishikawa
A brand new competition, the Toyota Mekong Club Championship is a reward for Phnom Penh Crown's Cambodian League Championship success. It's a 4-team tournament which will be held for the first time, in Vietnam, between 31 October and 2 November 2014. Toyota have put together the Champions of 4 countries - Vietnam (Becamex Binh Duong), Cambodia (Phnom Penh Crown), Laos (HAGL Attapeu) and Myanmar (still to be decided) - to organise this exciting competition, to find the best club team in the Mekong region. The venue has recently been switched to Ho Chi Minh City, with teams eligible to have 4 foreign players in their 18-man squad. There will be semi-final matches, then a 3rd/4th place play-off before the grand final. Its expected the matches will be screened live on TV in all four countries and the winning team will take home a cash prize of $75,000. The competition's Most Valuable Player will receive $15,000. Now that's prizemoney that is well worth winning. 
Crown head coach Sam Schweingruber is in China, but found time to offer up his thoughts about this new competition. "We are proud to be the first Cambodian team to be representing the country in the newly formed competition - the Mekong Cup. Obviously this is a huge opportunity for us to gain experience playing against champions of neighboring countries and we are looking forward to learning more about our opponents and other details, like the cup regulations. In preparation for the new season the Mekong Cup is coming a bit early. In preparation for the tournament, we will be for most of the time without at least 7 players that train with the National Team - so we will only be getting back together 10 days before departure, and will have to try to get everybody on the same page, especially new players like Koen. We hope to be playing some more international matches closer to the start of the new season and are preparing a tour, but details are not yet confirmed. Looking at the disappointing position Cambodia takes in the FIFA World Rankings (201st) we are aware that playing outside Cambodia pretty much always means we are the underdogs. But this will be the only way for us to try close the gap by playing against better teams." 
More information on the new competition can be found on its website @

Meanwhile, Crown have decided not to renew the contract of speedy winger Neou Sosela after one season with the club. Sosela's appearances were limited during the team's Championship-winning campaign that has just ended and head coach Sam Schweingruber has decided that it's best for both parties if the former Army and National Police speedster seeks first-team opportunities elsewhere. Albirex looks like the former Cambodia U-23's next destination.

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