The inaugural FAM-Frenz U15 ASEAN Champions Trophy kicks off this weekend as the cream of the region’s boys teams look to showcase the emerging talents of their respective countries and vie for substantial cash rewards.
All 11 ASEAN nations will be represented in the 12-team competition, which is the brainchild of the Football Association of Malaysia and the Frenz United Football Academy of Pahang, Malaysia. The Frenz Academy will enter two sides to fly the flag for Malaysia. Other major sponsorship partners include regional airline carrier Air Asia.
A whopping $50,000 is on offer for the tournament champions, while $25,000 will go to the runners-up.
The dozen squads will be split up into two groups of six for round robin matches played both home and away. The top two of each group will progress to the semi-finals, to be contested over two home and away legs.
The two legs of the grand final are slated for August 24 and September 1.
Phnom Penh Crown Academy, who won the 2013 Singapore Cricket Club International Soccer Sixes tournament for youth teams on Sunday, will look to show the hapless senior national team how it’s done on the international stage. Home games are expected to be played at Olympic Stadium.
Twenty players and five officials from Crown, including head coach Bouy Dary and assistant coach Kao Kiry, both former Cambodian internationals, will travel East across the border for their first match at 7:30pm on Saturday against Vietnam PVF Academy in Ho Chi Minh City.
According to a press release from the club yesterday, tournament organisers and sponsors are guaranteeing the cost of flights, accommodation, food and transport for all teams’ away matches.
Crown and PVF Academy are joined in Group A by Frenz Malaysia A, Singapore NFA, Thailand Chonburi Academy and Timor Leste U15s.
Group B will feature Frenz Indonesia, Myanmar Mandalay Academy, Lao Toyota Academy, Brunei U15s, Philippines U15s and Frenz Malaysia B.
“This U15 tournament should not just be a tournament for the younger players to gain exposure, but it should be the place where they learn to become champions,” FAM deputy president HRH Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah said at a press conference in Kuala Lumpur over the weekend.
“It must start at this stage, and the coaches must play their roles to bring up these champions. I am very proud that the tournament is taking place in Pahang [where he is Crown Prince], and my hope is to see a Malaysian team win the prize money.”
Phnom Penh Crown president Rithy Samnang said: “It’s a ground-breaking competition that will allow the young players of Cambodia to understand what is required to match their ASEAN neighbours, who have historically performed better than Cambodia on the international stage.
“I am so excited by this ASEAN Champions Trophy, and I urge all Cambodian football fans to support this new competition.”