Build Bright United will hope to improve on their best Samdech Hun Sen Cup placing of third in 2008 with success this year
Build Bright United (BBU) – formerly Build Bright University – are the only Cambodian Premier League team sponsored by an educational institution, and despite having yet to finish top of the class in domestic competitions, their record in the Samdech Hun Sen Cup is respectable enough.
In the 2007 tournament, BBU received three million riels for the fair play award, and in 2008, they clinched third place after beating Khemara Keila 3-2 in a playoff.
BBU were knocked out in the 2009 quarterfinals by eventual winners Phnom Penh Crown, although goalkeeper Hem Simay was given the best goalkeeper award after a fine penalty save in the shootout against Kirivong Sok Sen Chey during the previous round.
For this year’s fourth annual Samdech Hun Sen Cup, BBU will face Preah Vihear, Prek Pra Keila and Red Lion in group C played in Siem Reap. Ponn Chettra, general secretary of the Phnom Penh university-backed club, is confident on qualification for the knockout round despite unfamiliarity with opponents.
“We have had experiences at the top level,” he said. “We’ve won friendly matches many times, so it won’t be hard for us to reach the last 16 stage in Phnom Penh. But we can’t look down on the opponents because we have never met any of them before.”
The secretary added that coach Meas Sam Oeun, who has been with the club for all of the previous Samdech Hun Sen Cups, has kept his position at the club, despite lacking in high-level experience. “What [the coach] has done for the team is acceptable,” said Ponn Chettra. “He just needs to learn more about the leadership of a high-standard team.”
Although the budget for the team is low, BBU offers free scholarships to its players. “We are not rich,” revealed the secretary. “We can’t do anything without sponsorship from Build Bright University, especially from dean In Vireakcheat.”
Four go out, four come in
Four players have left the club ahead of the Cup tournament, namely Ho Sambo and Ek Vannak (both transferring to Takeo side Kirivong Sok Sen Chey), Huot Seiha (joining National Defence Ministry) and goalkeeper Chhim Ratha (club unknown). BBU have replaced the departees with four youngsters, mostly under 18 years old and including Phnom Penh Crown keeper Sos Proshim.
Phan Sophannara, a BBU midfielder for four years, is expecting his team will advance from the preliminary round.
“We’ve trained regularly, the players get along with each other and we have a good coach and a good management,” he stated. “We cannot predict the next step, but my team will try to overcome every challenge in the upcoming Cup.”
The club’s only obvious problem comes in goal, with star keeper Hem Simay still currently out of action with a knee injury. Second-choice stopper Chea Zena is also unavailable due to outside work commitments, so newcomer Sos Proshim may be called upon for the Cup. Phan Sophannara said he hopes that if Hem Simay remains inured, he can still share his wealth of experience with a young replacement.
BBU boast some quality local talent to keep the fans entertained, including national team midfielder and team captain Chhun Sothearath, who had attracted the interest of Cup holders Phnom Penh Crown, and club top scorer Prum Puthsethy.
Build Bright United will start their 2010 Cup campaign Thursday at 4:15pm against Preah Vihear at the Siem Reap provincial stadium.