Cambodia’s Thierry Chantha Bin began pre-season training with Thai third-tier side Krabi FC this week after signing a three-year deal with the club, as the first Cambodian player to cross the border as part of a shake-up in Thai football.
A rule passed in September and which comes into play for the 2018 season requires Premier League of Thailand (PLT) and Division 1 clubs to have one ASEAN player in their squad, along with one from Asia, among the maximum of five foreigners.
Thailand’s Division 2, in which Krabi play, is to trial the new rule in the 2017 season.
“Today we declare changes in our league structure as we aim to be the [football] centre of the ASEAN region. We believe that [Thai] clubs should have ASEAN players, to raise Thai football up as the centre of ASEAN [football],” goal.com reported the president of the Football Association of Thailand, Police General Somyot Poompanmoung, as saying after the ruling was brought in.
Chantha Bin said he thought the rule would lead to great opportunities for players from the ASEAN region, and that other Cambodian players would follow suit.
“It is positive for all ASEAN players. It is a great opportunity for us, so I think in the future many more players will come [to Thailand].
The 25-year-old defensive midfielder, who was born in Paris to parents from Battambang, spoke of his goals following the deal with Krabi (of which he said he couldn’t disclose financial details, but that “compared to the Cambodian league it is a better package”) after leaving Phnom Penh Crown in November.
“For myself, I want to show my quality at this level and have a good experience here. And for the club the goal is to go up [to Division 1] this year.
“I would say the standard of football is better here. In the Cambodian league there are three or four teams that can compete for the title. Here there are many good teams and many good players, so the league is more competitive and the level is much higher.
“I consider this to be a step up in my career. We can move in ASEAN, and it has always been my dream to play in Thailand. I very much want to play in the PLT.”
Chantha Bin won his first international cap for Cambodia in 2014, and has scored three goals in 19 appearances, and he said he didn’t think his move would affect his chances of representing his country in the future.
“I have spoken to the Football Federation of Cambodia, and if I am playing for my team by March [when the Kingdom’s Asian Cup qualifying round begins] then they are going to call me.”
He said that winning two league titles with Phnom Penh Crown, in 2014 and 2015, was the footballing highlight of his four years in the Metfone C-League at Crown, who he had played for since 2012, scoring nine goals in 54 appearances, and that he would like to play again in the Kingdom.
“I would like to thank my Cambodian fans for all their support. I hope that one day I will come back to play in Cambodia and I will see them again.”