Phnom Penh Crown will look to advance from the group stage of the 2012 AFC President’s Cup for the second successive season as hosts. The Cambodian league champions will get their campaign under way at 1:30pm tomorrow at Olympic Stadium against Yeedzin FC of Bhutan. Kyrgyzstan kings Dordoi Bishkek and Nepal Police Club will then play at 4:30pm in the other Group B clash of the day.
Crown are making their fourth appearance in the regional club competition sanctioned by the Asian Football Confederation, and follow an historic run last year that took them all the way to the final in Taiwan. Despite losing 3-2 to home side Taiwan Power Company in a ill-tempered match, it was the best result for any Cambodian outfit in the tournament. Khemara Keila reached the semifinal in 2006.
Bhutanese A-League side Yeedzin are the lowest ranked of the four-team Group B, having struggled in previous editions and conceded many goals.
In their last meeting at Startak Stadium in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, in 2009, Crown defeated Yeedzin 3-1. Defender Tieng Tiny and striker Chan Chhaya are surviving members of the Crown squad during that time.
Although they have encountered a stuttering start to their Metfone C-League title defence over the past two months, Crown coach David Booth remains confident of regaining their blistering form of last year.
“Our form has been up and down in the league, but I think its the nature of the competition that the President’s Cup brings out the best in our players,” he told the Post yesterday.
“We need to find consistency and play with agression. As we are playing at home, we have a good following and I hope it is enough to lift our team. But we [still] have to perform. We’ve made a lot of mistakes in the league and we need to cut them out.”
The 63-year-old Englishman revealed they had been busy preparing for their upcoming Cup fixtures since their 3-1 defeat at the hands of Kirivong Sok Sen Chey last Sunday.
“The last match didn’t go very well. Our squad have picked up a few knocks and injuries. Emmanuel Frimpong took a bad kick to his foot during our last game, and he got hit again in the same place during training, so he’s doubtful. Another foreign player, Tony [Obadin], has a slight injury ... but he’ll be OK.
“We will employ a similar formation to what I use for domestic games. Its been proven as the best way for them to play well, and we cant change it so quickly.”
Three training fields have been marked out for use for Crown and the visiting teams – the pitch at Olympic Stadium, Phnom Penh Crown FC field in Tuol Kork district and Cambodia Mekong University field in Teuk Thla district.
Match commissioners include Chuang Chin Fan from Taiwan, Huang Song of China and referee assessor Liu Tiejun of China.
The five match officials, all with experience in their own domestic leagues and regional competitions, hail from Qatar, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia, and will be joined by six assistant referees.