From humble beginning as a fun team for staff members, Boeung Ket Rubber Field has risen spectacularly to fame as one of the heavyweights of domestic football in just under four years.
As defending Metfone C-League champions, the pride of Kampong Cham takes a huge step into a different class when the plantation side plays host this week to the four-team Group C matches in the 2013 AFC President’s Cup.
Boeung Ket kick-start their quest for a place in September’s final stage against a rugged Sri Lankan Army outfit at 4pm at Olympic Stadium, after Jerusalem-based Palestine club Hilal Al-Quds, the 2012 West Bank Premier League winners, face off against the formidable Balkan FC from Turkmenistan.
Following a day of rest, Boeung Ket get down to their toughest call when they meet Balkan on Wednesday, with the Cambodian champs winding up their three-match campaign against Al-Quds on Friday.
The top two teams from the group earn a place in the final phase of the tournament, scheduled to be held at a venue yet to be decided from September 23-29.
While Boeung Ket and Al-Quds are making their first appearances in the ninth edition of this annual club tournament, the Sri Lankans will be showing up for the second time and Balkan are into their third attempt.
Past performances suggest that the Turkmenistan side will be the hardest to confront, while the Palestinians have been steadily building a reputation as a team of sound physical strength. Boeung Ket come into the mix as a team fast blending into a cohesive unit, while military discipline will be a factor to reckon with when it comes to the Sri Lankans.
“We are eager. We are excited but certainly not overawed,” Boeung Ket manager Be Makara told the Post when describing the mood in his camp before their elevation to the biggest stage they have seen.
“We respect our rivals but we do not know much about them. Our aim will be to play to our strengths and cover our weaknesses, and if we manage to do that we should hold our own against these teams,” he added.
Boeung Ket’s management had to make a crucial strategic decision on who to pick of the two foreign players allowed to register under the rules of the event. After considerable thought, the Nigerian midfield duo of Degule Momoh and Chukwuma Churuogo have been picked ahead of star striker Bisan George, who has been the side's top scorer in the on-going league campaign, and Cameroon-born Befolo Mbarga.
“We decided to go for Momoh because he is a strong midfielder and we need solidity around the middle of the park. Chukwuma is very versatile and can fit into any position, and he can also be a good back-up in defence,” said Be Makara.
“It is unfortunate that we can only register two foreign players. As much as we wished for Bisan or Mbarga here, we had no choice. But we will keep them for the Singapore Cup later [this month].”
The team has had solid preparations at the National Football Centre in Chom Chao, with an eye on this event and their winning streak in the league keeping the players in great spirit.