Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Cambodia snub Challenge Cup to focus on NFC

Cambodia snub Challenge Cup to focus on NFC

Cambodia snub Challenge Cup to focus on NFC

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The Cambodian senior team line up at the Olympic Stadium in Phnom Penh before their 2012 AFC Challenge Cup qualifier playoff against Macau in 2011.  Photograph: Sreng Meng Srun/Phnom Penh Post

The Cambodian national football team has been pulled from the 2014 AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers, deputy general Secretary and spokesman of the Football Federation of Cambodia (FFC) May Tola told the Post on Friday.

According to the official, there were two main reasons for the disappointing withdrawal.

“Firstly, the FFC wants to concentrate on building youth and grassroots programs locally,” he said.

“Secondly, 2013 to 2014 will see the final stage of completion of the new national football centre at the Bati Centre [in the Tonle Bati district of Takeo province] and, as we have limited finance, we want to cut some programs that are not, at the moment, the best priority so we can save money for the construction.”

The AFC Challenge Cup is the biennial event for the lowest level of Asian nations. Cambodia has participated since the inaugural edition in 2006.

In the 2012 qualifying campaign, Cambodia beat Macau 5-4 on aggregate over two playoff legs held in February last year but were eliminated at the qualifying group stage, held in Male, the Maldives, a month later after losing their matches against the hosts, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.

Nine days ago, Hok Sochetra handed in his resignation as coach of the national team following their return from a woeful 2012 AFF Suzuki Cup qualifier tournament in Yangon.

“At the moment, we do not have any plan about hiring [a new] national coach because we do not have an international tournament ahead,” May Tola said.

The 2013 schedule currently shows absolutely nothing for the senior squad, while the U23 team will feature at the SEA Games in Myanmar in December.

The federation has received substantial sums over the past few years from FIFA’s Goal Project to help construct the new National Football Centre located on 15 hectares of land about 40 kilometres south of Phnom Penh.

A $400,000 grant was given in 2009 for extension of the technical centre, and a similar amount was transferred a year later for the same purpose. The centre includes two dormitories and changing rooms.

In 2011, the FFC collected $500,000 for the purchase and installation of a water filtration system and power supply, and other materials for a cafeteria and dormitories.

But FFC secretary-general Kul Sophanna said it needed more funding for the facility to help ensure it becomes the model centre for football development in the Kingdom.

To contact the reporter of the story: Ung Chamroeun at [email protected]

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