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Futsal players go national

Cambodia is to send a team to play in the AFC qualifying tourney in Jakarta.

THE Football Federation of Cambodia (FFC) is assembling a national Futsal team to send to the 2010 AFC Futsal Championship qualifiers in Jakarta, Indonesia, from February 20-25 next year. National team manager Vann Ly has been appointed team manager for the event, while former footballer Ouk Chamrong is the designated coach, with assistants Nuth Sony and Hok Sottitya.

Vann Ly said Wednesday that 20 players from the eight futsal teams of the 2009 FFC Hello Futsal League have been training regularly since Monday, with a squad of 15 yet to be selected for the trip to Jakarta.

“We have only one month for training, but we keep working hard to get a good result from the tournament,” said Vann Ly, adding that training sessions were held every day from 6am to 7:30am and 4pm to 5:30pm. “We need them to be strong in technical and also physical performance.”

Following the draw in Kuala Lumpur Wednesday, Cambodia have been placed in Group B of the ASEAN zone, alongside Vietnam, Malaysia and Philippines.

FFC Deputy General Secretary May Tola said they should be wary of Malaysia and Vietnam, but that he remains optimistic about the prospects of the team. “Our performance is still lower than others,” he said. “But it’s the first time that we have a real Futsal team. Before, we used footballers from the normal [football] field to participate in the Futsal tournament.

“In Malaysia, Futsal has become a social movement because many Malaysians like playing it. Vietnam is also one of the most experienced teams in the region, but I think that we have the same level as the Philippines.

“Now the FFC considers Futsal one of its priorities for football development in the Kingdom,” the federation official continued. “Our players ... have much experience on the Futsal field because they are from different teams from the Futsal league.”

May Tola also noted Cambodia’s irregularity in participation of both ASEAN and Asian Futsal Championships. “As I remember, we participated only three times in the regional tournaments,” he said.

In total, there are 26 teams involved in qualifying, divided into eight groups spread over four zones, including East Zone, West Zone, ASEAN Zone and South and Central Zone. The top two teams from each group will qualify for crossover semifinals in their respective zones, with the top three of each going through to the Finals taking place in Uzbekistan next year.

2008 champions Iran, runners-up Thailand, third placed Japan and hosts Uzbekistan have been given direct entry into the last-16 finals round.

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