A Cambodian national team player tackles an Ulsan University player (front) during their friendly match at Olympic Stadium on January 29, 2012. Photograph: Sreng Meng Srun/Phnom Penh Post
The Cambodian national team play two friendlies against South Korean team Ulsan University this weekend with 3:30pm kick-offs today and on Sunday at Olympic Stadium.
Prak Sovannara will lead the side out for the first time in his latest stint as head coach of Cambodia, and faces the ominous task of securing their first victory over the touring team which have won four of their five meetings over the last four years.
A 3-2 loss in 2008 was followed by 1-0 and 4-1 defeats in 2010 and, although the sides drew 3-3 their initial encounter on January 27 last year, order was restored with a 2-1 win for the Koreans two days later.
A last-minute addition to the 30-strong squad is Cambodian-American Alexander Kem. The 24-year-old from Maryland, whose parents are native to Phnom Penh, previously played for the U23 side of four-time Major League Soccer champions DC United in nearby Washington DC.
Kem graduated from Mount St Mary’s College in 2010 and is currently working as a contract technician for the US Department of Agriculture.
“My trip to Cambodia [to play with the national team] is all about experience. I’m still debating whether I will one day move over here,” Kem told the Post on Wednesday.
Through a friend in the US who set up the Khmer-American Soccer Association, Kem was put into contact with national team coach Prak Sovannara.
“I will put him on the field on Sunday,” the coach said. “He needs time to adjust to the change in weather, food and time zone.” Sovannara also noted that they were pursuing Cambodian-American midfielder Davy Armstrong, who made his first team debut for MLS’s Colorado Rapids in September 2011.
MCL season gets further reshuffle
The Football Federation of Cambodia have announced the latest change to the 2013 season. In a letter signed on Wednesday by FFC Secretary-General Kul Sophana, the Federation stated league matches will play from January 12 to July 20 this year.
A break in play to honour the funeral ceremony and cremation of the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk will occur from January 20 to February 16, FFC spokesman May Tola confirmed to the Post yesterday.
The letter also noted a change to Group E games in the 2014 AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers, which features Cambodia, the Philippines, Turkmenistan and Brunei. The group will now be played from March 22-26 after a request was submitted by hosts the Philippines.
To contact the reporters on this story: Dan Riley at firstname.lastname@example.org
Chhorn Norn at email@example.com
With assistance from Chris Derbuc at firstname.lastname@example.org