The Football Federation of Cambodia (FFC) has revealed a revamped format for its 2012 edition of the Samdech Hun Sen Cup, which is set to run from January 7 to February 4.
FFC general secretary Kul Sophana told the Post yesterday the premier annual club tournament would feature two expanded stages – a qualification round, played at five provincial centres, and a group stage played in Phnom Penh.
According to Kul Sophana, host towns for each of the centres for the eight-day qualification round have yet to be confirmed, although the provinces have been grouped as follows:
East Centre: Prey Veng, Svay Rieng, Kampong Cham, Phnom Penh
Central Centre: Kampong Thom, Siem Reap, Banteay Meanchey, Oddar Meanchey, Preah Vihear
West Centre: Kampong Chhnang, Pursat, Kampong Speu, Battambang, Pailin
North Centre: Mondulkiri, Ratanakiri, Stung Treng, Kratie
South Centre: Takeo, Kampot, Kep, Preah Sihanouk, Koh Kong
It is not yet known which clubs will be entering or how many will hail from any particular province. The top sides from each centre, as well as the three best runner-up teams, will advance to the final round, held at Olympic Stadium from January 20.
These eight outfits will be joined by the top eight Metfone C-League clubs of this year: Phnom Penh Crown, Naga Corp, Preah Khan Reach, National Defence Ministry, Build Bright United, Kirivong Sok Sen Chey, National Police Commissary and Chhlam Samuth.
The sides will be split into four groups of four (two provincial qualifiers and two premier league clubs) and will play round-robin matches to determine the best two that will head to final-eight knockout ties.
Kul Sophana said the Cup’s new structure aimed to develop quality of competition and allow players to show off their skill and ability.
“We do not want to have a big gap in the standard between provincial sides and [top-tier] teams. With this new format, I believe teams who can qualify from each centre will not be weak. We are managing the fixtures like World Cup and ASEAN Cup campaigns,” he said.
Kul Sophana did not disclose details of prizemoney, but claimed there would not be a significant difference from the previous year, when Preah Khan Reach beat Build Bright United in the final to collect 80 million riel (US$19,925).
The 2012 tournament, which once again will feature purely home-grown talent, is in its sixth incarnation.