Monday, September 1, 2014

Crown to face V-League champs

Sam Schweingruber speaking to the media
At the same time as Phnom Penh Crown received their official invitation to join the Toyota Mekong Club Championship at the weekend, it was revealed that their opponents in the semi-final will be the Eximbank Vietnamese League champions Becamex Binh Duong on 31 October at the home of the V-League team, the Go Dau stadium, just outside of Ho Chi Minh City. That's the toughest draw possible for Crown, with the Laos champions, HAGL Attapeu facing the winners of the Myanmar Ooredoo Cup, Ayeyawady United in the other semi-final. The final will be played two days later. With big prize money up for grabs - the winners receive $75,000 while the 4th-placed team gets $10,000 - winning that semi-final match has both national pride and monetary rewards at stake. Crown head coach Sam Schweingruber, whose team starts back for pre-season training today, had this to say about the competition. "We hope that all our players will be fit and ready at the end of October - obviously we'll have to wait and see. Right now Thierry is struggling with a knee injury, but we hope its nothing serious and he is back to full strength soon. We are going to be short in numbers during our pre-season, which is a big concern as we are without our national team players until 11 days before the Mekong Cup - which is a serious challenge to ideal preparations. I've started to look at the 3 teams that we might play and started to request information - but so far have not had the time to start a detailed study. Now we know that for the first game we will face the champions of Vietnam, Binh Duong. So far I have only seen a few small clips of their last games and I hope I can study them in more detail soon. From what I understand, we can register 5 foreign players and have 4 of them involved in the game, so I expect our foreign players to play an important role in helping us get the best possible result. Can we win? You never know, football can bring surprises. Sure, we know that on paper the V-League is much stronger than our league in Cambodia and that the teams have bigger budgets and better players, more experience and so on. Binh Duong is a very good team and we need to prepare as well as possible, to be ready to give our very best and with some luck, maybe we can surprise them. A lot of things will need to go perfect for us. It's a great challenge and we don't have that much to lose, we are the underdogs, that can help us."
For Binh Duong it was the club's third championship success after getting into the top division in 2004. They won it in 2007 and 2009 and progressed from 8th spot in 2013 to become this year's champions. However, they suffered a setback in the Vietnam National Cup final, losing to unfancied Haiphong.
Becamex Binh Duong receiving their 2014 Championship trophy

No comments: