With Cambodia’s World Cup qualifying campaign in Pool E winding down next March, the national team will set off to Dhaka for the six-nation Bangabandhu Gold Cup invitational tournament between January 8 and 18.
Coach Lee Tae-hoon will put the 30 probables already listed through their paces in a one-week preparatory camp beginning on December 29 at the Bati Center. The Warriors squad will be whittled down to 23 players who will eventually make the trip for this prestigious event in the company of seven officials.
“This has been a remarkable year for Cambodian football and our thrust and focus in 2016 will be making it to the Suzuki Cup proper since we are staging the qualifying rounds in October. This invitation from Bangladesh is highly significant," May Tola, spokesman of the Football Federation of Cambodia, told the Post yesterday.
The line-up includes hosts Bangladesh, Cambodia, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bahrain and Malaysia. The official draw will be held on December 27.
This is a major assignment for Lee, now six months into his twice-extended term at the helm after taking charge in August 2010.
He was off-duty from July 2012 to September 2013 when Hok Sochetra and Prak Sovanara ran the team, but he has enjoyed an uninterrupted run since.
As he pitches his side for the Bangladesh campaign, the South Korean strategist will be the second longest-serving foreign coach after German Joachim Fickert, who trained the national team between June 1996 and January 2003.
Meanwhile, Prak Sovanara, winner of the Coach of the Year Award for Boeung Ket Angkor, has been entrusted with the task of preparing a Cambodian All-Stars side to play charity-driven friendly matches next month against Thailand’s multiple trophy winners Buriram United and the team they bested in the Thai League this year, Muangthong United.
The two Thai sides, who account for seven league titles between them, will meet in the Thai Cup Final on December 26 in Bangkok before embarking on their Asian tours.
The All-Stars game against Muangthong United has been set for January 16 at the Olympic Stadium, and the game against Buriram is slated for the same venue the following week on January 23.
The 30 probables now on Sovanara’s watchlist were drawn on the strength of their performances during the recently concluded Metfone C-League season.
Eight foreign players representing various clubs are in the mix with 22 locals. Changes to this list are likely before the squads are finalised for either of these matches.
It is now certain that some of the members of the national team in the All-Stars reckoning will have to be left out for the Muangthong tie since it clashes with Cambodia’s schedule in the Bangladesh tournament.
However, the All-Stars are expected to field a full-strength side against Buriram United.
Crown boss moved to Bangkok
Sam Schwinegruber, coach of League-winning Phnom Penh Crown, who was seriously injured in a motorcycle accident in Phnom Penh last week, has reportedly been moved from the Calamette Hospital to Bangkok for continued treatment.
Reports suggest that while the injuries were serious, they were not life-threatening.