Japanese defender Daisuke Kobayashi – who performed well for his two seasons with Preah Khan Reach Svay Rieng – had his contract terminated with Phnom Penh Crown as he has not played a full 90 minutes for the club since transferring just over two months ago.

It seems early for the April 26 parting of ways, as Kobayashi only signed his contract at the end of February. He had shown excellent form for Svay Rieng through the 2020 and 2021 seasons.

Wearing jersey number 2, he signed the deal with Crown to replace his countryman Yudai Ogawa who has returned to Japan for surgery and long-term recovery from a hernia inguinal. In his two-month tenure, he has made no starts, with his only appearances coming off the bench in the final minutes of a match.

Now, the journey between Crown and Kobayashi is over, with speculation rife that the defending champions have cut him in order to secure a foreign player who can improve their perceived weak points ahead of the second leg of the Cambodian Premier League.

In the first leg of the season, the Red Singha did not make a good start – finishing with one win, four draws and two losses, to fall into 6th place on the table, with just 7 points.

A stadium full of fans watch a match between Cambodia and Bahrein in 2019. Yousos Apdoulrashim

Crown have yet to reveal the availability of new foreign players to replace Kobayashi, but Japanese defender Ose Takaki, Colombian midfielder Andre Nieto, Ukrainian striker Valeriy Hryshyn and Afghan striker Fareed Sadat remain important squad members, ahead of the June 25 start of the second round.

In other domestic football news, the Cambodian Premier League has now allowed stadiums to operate at full capacity and will no longer require officials and players to submit to regular Covid-19 testing.

“Thanks to the government’s effort in combating Covid-19, there has been a significant reduction in cases so far and this encouraging sign – coupled with the enthusiasm of the fans – meant we have decided to allow 100 per cent capacity at all stadiums for all Cambodia Premier League matches.

“We want to provide the opportunity for all football fans to watch every match and believe this will enable Cambodian football to grow to another level,” said the league in an April 27 press release.