Cambodian champions Boeung Ket Angkor’s rebuilding process will be put to the test today when coach John McGlynn’s side line up against Malaysian giants Johor Darul Ta’zim in the AFC Cup Group F tie at the Tan Sri Dato Haji Yunos Stadium in Johor Baru. The much anticipated clash kicks off at 8:45pm local time (7:45pm Cambodian time).
Boeung Ket, who won the Metfone C-League last season on the final day by a single point, will be the first Cambodian club to appear in the group stage of the competition after their 2-1 aggregate win over Lao Toyota in the ASEAN qualifying playoffs earlier this month.
McGlynn, who took over the reins at Boeung Ket in January, said: “It’s great to be back coaching in the top-flight and being part of Cambodian history by becoming [the Kingdom’s] first club ever to qualify for the AFC Cup group stage, and being the first foreign coach to do so. It was also satisfying to collect silverware by winning the CNCC Charity Cup, beating Ministry of National defence 3-0.”
Boeung Ket on February 12 became the first ever winners of the Charity Cup, the new curtain-raiser for the season that pits the league champions against the Hun Sen Cup holders.
Australian coach McGlynn is recaliberating his side following the departure of several key players, including Nigerian forward Samuel Gbenga Ajayi, who has moved to C-League side Asia Europe United and Japanese central midfielder Yuya Wada, now at Myanmar’s Yadanarbon FC.
And without the services of Golden Boot holder Chan Vathanaka, who is on a season’s loan to Japanese third tier side Fujieda MYFC, Boeung Ket will have to lean heavily on the firepower of experienced striker Khuon Laboravy and Japanese forward Tomoki Muramatsu, who both scored in the cup win over Army.
The Rubbermen’s attack has been boosted by the arrival of 30-year-old Brazilian forward Maycon Rogerio Silva Calijuri, a Santos youth player, from Thai League 2 side Lampang FC.
‘Preparations are good’
The team will be happy to see the return to the line-up of Cambodia goalkeeper Sou Yaty and robust defender Sun Sovanarithy, both of whom were red carded in the first leg clash with Lao Toyota, forcing them to sit out the return clash.
The team has been put through its paces in the past couple of days ahead of what is a tough assignment for the players in tackling a side as accomplished as Johor Darul, nicknamed the Southern Tigers.
“Preparations are good, the boys have been training well, and we are optimistic of a positive result,” Mc-Glynn said. “It will be a difficult game playing the Malaysian champions, who have a strong home record.
“We have done our homework on our opponents so we have a good idea of how they play, where they are strong and weak. We are excited and looking forward to the game and quietly confident of bringing further success back to Cambodia.”
Johor Darul won the AFC Cup in 2015, becoming the first Southeast Asian club to win a continental title. As defending champions, they were beaten in the semifinals by India’s Bengaluru FC in last season’s competition.
The Southern Tigers’ 38-year-old Mexican manager Benjamin Mora will likely view newly acquired Argentine forwards Gabriel Guerra, 23, and Brian Ferreira, 22, as central to his plans as his side aim to down Boeung Ket and get off to the perfect start in their bid to make it to the ASEAN Zone semifinals.