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Crown face Don Bosco in AFC Cup

Crown face Don Bosco in AFC Cup

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Phnom Penh Crown striker Kouch Sokumpheak (left) will try to add to his AFC President’s Cup tally of four this weekend. Photo by: Sreng Meng Srun

Phnom Penh Crown striker Kouch Sokumpheak (left) will try to add to his AFC President’s Cup tally of four this weekend. Photo by: Sreng Meng Srun

Group A matches of the 2011 AFC President’s Cup kick off tomorrow at Olympic Stadium with hometown hopefuls Phnom Penh Crown hosting Don Bosco SC from Sri Lanka at 4pm, while FC Neftchi Kochkor-Ata of Kyrgyzstan take on Bangladesh outfit Abahani Limited earlier at 1:30pm.

Defending Mefone C-League champions Crown make their third appearance in the regional club competition and play for the first time with home advantage.

Don Bosco SC, based in Negombo town approximately 37 kilometres north of the capital Colombo, clinched their first Dialog Champions League title last season.

Under the expert tutelage of former national team coach Sampath Pereta, they have risen dramatically through the ranks after gaining promotion to the top flight just two years ago.

Strikers Nipuna Bandara and Philip Rasen are among the star players in their squad, while Ajith Kumara is known as the top goalkeeper in Sri Lankan football.

In the inaugural event in 2005, Phnom Penh Crown (formerly Hello United), met another Sri Lankan side, Blue Star SC. They lost 3-2 through a last gasp strike. Two current squad members were in the team at that time – Sun Sopanha played as a substitute while Hok Sochivoan was not used.

In 2009, Sri Lankan team Renown SC was beaten by Naga Corp 4-2 in Yangon. Crown defender Sun Sovanrithy featured for Naga.

14 Crown players in total have gained experience in the competition. Skipper Thul Sothearith and defender Tieng Tiny will both play in their fourth tournaments while forward Kouch Sokumpheak scored four goals for Khemara Keila during the 2006 and 2007 campaigns.

The Metfone C-League will resume with matches at Olympic Stadium on May 28.

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