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National team looking for new blood at Sar Kheng Cup

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Kampong Speu (in red) readies for an attempt at spiking through a wall of defenders on the Pailin side during their opening match in Group A of the Sar Kheng Cup at Visakha Volleyball Arena on June 8. CHHORN NORN

National team looking for new blood at Sar Kheng Cup

The 21 volleyball clubs from across Cambodia who applied for the 2022 Sar Kheng Cup started competing in their four groups on June 8. Held at the Visakha Volleyball Arena at Prince Stadium, the competition will identify which teams are strong enough to progress to the next round.

Officials from the Volleyball Federation of Cambodia (VFC) consider the cup as an important opportunity for recruiting new blood, with new talent expecting to be identified and added to the national team. The search for new talent has been expanded since the federation secured a historic bronze at the recent SEA Games in Vietnam.

VFC secretary-general Aing Serey Piseth said the win added pressure to the Kingdom’s team, and the federation is looking to build on the momentum the win gave them, as they prepare for the 32nd games, to be held in Phnom Penh.

“The 2022 Sar Kheng Cup is a new step. The federation is moving forward. While we rejoiced in winning our first bronze medal, that was in the past, and we need to look to the future – especially because we are hosting next year’s games,” he said after the opening ceremony of the cup.

“After our national team brought home bronze – to the pride of more than 16 million Cambodians – we must consider the expectations that are now on us. When we host the 2023 games, we cannot achieve anything less than bronze. This is the pressure we have created for ourselves, and the federation has thought carefully about how to move forward,” he said.

“We needed to create more events to promote volleyball, and especially to find new blood. The Sar Kheng Cup will identify emerging talentso we can add them to the national team’s training schedule in preparation for next year’s games. The sustainability of volleyball cannot end in 2023! We have to move on. The evolution of the sport cannot be over, as long as we are living in peace,” he added.

After the opening ceremony – which was held in Phnom Penh for the first time this year – there was also a friendly match between the Visakha and Ministry of Interior teams.

Visakha – with a strong line-up of established national players, still fresh from their medal-winning heroics in Vietnam – showed why they are often thought to be unrivalled, beating the Ministry of Interior team in three sets with 25-21, 25-23 and 25-23.

In the opening matches of Group A, Kampong Speu and Takeo volleyball teams each claimed three points. Kampong Speu beat Pailin 3-1 and Takeo defeated Kratie Provincial Police Commissariat 3-1.

The four group stages between the 21 teams will run until June 21, with the first and second teams from each group advancing to play in the knockout stages on June 22. The winners will go through to the semi-finals, which will be played a day later. The final is scheduled for June 26.

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