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Battambang youth leagues find champions

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Youth football continues to thrive in Battambang as the Sports and Leadership Training Academy prepares to host the finals of their 2011-2012 SALT ANZ Boys Leagues this Sunday from 1pm at the fields of the local airport.

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In the U11 division, Jerusalem will face off against either Aden or Pastoral Club, who will decide the outcome of their rained off semifinal with a penalty shootout on Sunday, in a third place playoff before CFI take on the winner of the shootout in the title decider.

Pastoral Club also feature in the battle for third of the U14s section against Catholics. FEDA and Salaa Hope will contest the final.

In the U17 class, SOS and Sorang will play for third while Chrey and Jerusalem round off the day’s action with their championship match.

Last Sunday saw the conclusion of the SALT ANZ Girls leagues at the airfield. SALT Academy started the first girls team back in 2006, which has grown steadily to now include leagues over three age categories.

Nearly 300 players participated in the competition for girls teams, which are all lead by female coaches drawn from SALT’s Mighty Girls program, a women’s empowerment program for secondary students, offering advanced education and training to promising young female athletes.

The Girls U11 final was contested by Komar Rikreay and Khmer Center for Development (KCD).

KCD went up early thanks to their taller and faster strikers.

Although the diminutive member of the Komar Rikreay fought back to keep things close, KCD held on for a 4-3 triumph.

FEDA routed Rapha House 4-1 to capture third place.

Size advantage was also exploited in the U17 final, with the younger and smaller Chrey FC team conceding twice early on to the more experienced SOS Children’s Village.

A spirited fightback ensued, but Chrey were guilty of numerous missed chances to equalise as SOS stood strong in defence to grab a 2 -1 win and the title. CFI edged KCD 1-0 in the third place playoff.

The biggest drama of the day, however, came in U14 final between Children’s Future International (CFI) and the younger SOS side.

Both teams traded goals in regulation time, with CFI creating more shots and sustained pressure but failing to improve on a 2-2 draw. Nevertheless, their confident shooters returned to form to lead them to a 2-1 victory in the quick-fire penalty shootout against SOS.

Komar Rikreay had beaten CAD 2-1 in the earlier third place decider.

All games were officiated by certified referees trained by SALT and the Football Federation of Cambodia.

The U14 Girls teams will head to Phnom Penh to participate in the ISF U14 Youth Tournament on Saturday, giving the boys a turn to shine in Battambang.

Meanwhile, the province’s top boys and girls sides will travel to Kampot tomorrow for the National High Schools tournament held over the weekend.

The Mighty Girls team goes on to represent Battambang for the third year in a row after demolishing local sides by double digit margins, while a boys squad from Nedjong High School will also repeat their representation of the province.

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