The Football Federation of Cambodia held the draw for the secondary group stage of the 2012 Samdech Hun Sen Cup on Friday, dividing the last 16 teams into four groups of four. The eight qualifiers from the preliminary group stage held in the provinces are joined by the eight top teams from the 2011 Metfone C-League.
Sreng Meng Srun/Phnom Penh Post
2011 Hun Sen Cup finalists Preah Khan Reach and Build Bright United have been drawn in a group for this year’s competition.
The first four finishers of last year’s league competition – Phnom Penh Crown, Naga Corp, Preah Khan Reach and National Defence Ministry – were given seeds and separated across the four groups, while the remaining sides were bracketed in the groups during the draw.
Matches will be played at Olympic Stadium and Old Stadium from February 1 to 12.
Group A: Naga Corp, Chhlam Samuth, Battambang and Pailin
Naga Corp, two times Cup runners-up and third-place finishers last time out, are favourite to progress to the quarterfinals, with Chhlam Samuth their biggest rivals in the group.
Naga defender Ek Sovannara has to face his old team Chhlam Samuth, while former Naga striker Nuth Sinoun will line up opposite in a Sea Sharks shirt.
Chhlam Samuth’s best Cup run came in 2009, reaching the semifinals when they went by the name Phouchung Neak.
Battambang and Pailin both qualified for the capital stage out of Kampong Chhnang Centre. Pailin topped the table, while Battambang grabbed one of the three best runners-up spots.
Group B: National Defence Ministry, Kirivong Sok Sen Chey, Asia Europe University and Kampot
2010 champions National Defence Ministry will be foolish to underestimate the strengths of Kirivong Sok Sen Chey and Asia Europe University, who represent Preah Vihear province.
Last year, National Defence were beaten by Naga Corp in the third-place playoff. Kirivong, meanwhile, have been a fixture in the last-16 round but they had a bitter lesson in 2010 when ousted by Rithy Sen.
Asia Europe came in third in the 2011 Division A1 league competition, and their advance to this group phase was no accident.
With former Khemara Keila and Naga keeper Mak Theara boasting a wealth of experience between the sticks, the university team progressed from Siem Reap Centre as group leaders.
Kampot are generally regarded as the weakest link in Group B, but they may have retained some knowledge of their appearance in 2009. The provincial outfit were another to be awarded a berth in the Phnom Penh rounds as a worthy runner-up.
Group C: Preah Khan Reach, Build Bright United, Stung Treng and Koh Kong
A stand-out match-up in this group sees Cup holders Preah Khan Reach coming up against fellow 2011 finalists Build Bright United. Both teams will retain strong hopes of advancing.
Before winning the title last season, Preah Khan Reach had finished runners-up once and third two times. Build Bright have yet to lift the silverware but have improved steadily over the years.
Stung Treng and Koh Kong both topped their respective groups, with the former making only their second successive appearance at this stage whereas the latter have pitched in on four previous occasions.
Group D: Phnom Penh Crown, Nat-ional Police Commissary, Boeung Ket Rubber Field and Kratie
Two-time winners Phnom Penh Crown will encounter familiar faces in former manager Be Makara, former striker Keo Sokngorn and former midfielder Lor Pichseila.
After receiving news of the group draw, Be Makara posted on his Facebook wall: “I feel pressing too much that my team [Boeung Ket] will meet my former team [Phnom Penh Crown] in group stage of Samdech Hun Sen Cup 2012 . . . I wish to see both teams qualified.”
Crown will hold a press conference to announce their squad list at the weekend after making significant changes to their squad during the off-season.
Sam Chamroeun, Sos Souhana and Vi Lyka are among the new members of the first team.
Boeung Ket Rubber Field will make their second successive foray into the city stage after competing last year as Neak Khiev.
National Police Commissary, who are comprised of predominantly young players, also pose a threat in the group after reaching the quarterfinals of the previous edition where they lost 3-2 to Naga Corp in extra time.
The final runners-up from the preliminary phase, Kratie, have made it this far in the past two competitions when they were called Moha Garuda.