Sunday, August 3, 2014

Tough proposition

Cambodia's U-21 v Laos, back row, LtoR: Samoeun, Tola, Vichet, Srin, Daravorn, Sovan. Front: Chhoeun, Borey, Ravy, Da, Suhana - pic by DeeSler, click to enlarge
Cambodia's U-21 team returned home today after a 2-2 draw in Vientiane with their Laos counterparts, in a warm-up for their Hassanal Bolkiah Trophy matches in Brunei, which start in six days time. Nob Tola and Ros Samoeun gave Cambodia the lead in yesterday's friendly only for the hosts to pull two goals back in the last fifteen minutes. Coach Lee-Tae-Hoon has a few more days with the squad at the Tonle Bati HQ before they head for Brunei. There they begin with a tough game against the home country on 9 August, especially as local hopes are high that the Brunei side can retain the trophy they won in 2012 when they beat Indonesia 2-0 in the final. In 2012 the Cambodia team lost all four of their matches. Brunei's South Korean coach Kwon Oh-son saw his team draw 1-1 with Malaysian side Sabah at the weekend and he will include players from the DPMM side - Brunei's only professional team - that is currently leading the Singapore league, and who won the Singapore Cup last week. For his part, Lee Tae-Hoon, also from South Korea, can include four players who have just won the Cambodian championship with Phnom Penh Crown, so both coaches will have in-form players to count on. Looking at the other teams in Group B that will face Cambodia, Vietnam stand out as potential winners of the trophy. They have just returned from a two-month training camp in Japan and under French coach Guillaume Graechen, they include eleven HAGL players in what is the country's U-19 team. Vietnam are also using the competition to prepare for the AFC U-19 Championships to be held in Hanoi in September. Singapore come into the HBT having beaten Philippines 2-0 in a friendly last week and their team have been playing together in the Prime League, Singapore's reserve division, all season under experienced coach Richard Bok. Malaysia's U-21 team, known as Harimau Muda B, also compete together in the Singapore League, and will also be a real contender for the HBT title. Indonesia, a late entrant into the competition, will also send their U-19 team to compete instead of taking part in another tournament in Europe. It certainly promises to be another very tough task for Cambodia's U-21s, strengthened by the inclusion of five overage players, Kouch Sokumpheak, Sos Suhana, Chhin Chhoeun, Phourng Soksana and Sok Sovan, who carried the captain's armband in yesterday's friendly. The fixtures for Cambodia are:
9 Aug vs Brunei; 11 Aug vs Singapore; 15 Aug vs Malaysia; 16 Aug vs Indonesia; 18 Aug vs Vietnam.
The Vietnam U-19 team, one of the competition favourites

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