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Olympic Stadium goes artificial

Olympic Stadium
Youngsters look on from the south stand of the Olympic Stadium on Sunday as construction work continues on the new artificial turf pitch, which is slated for completion by the middle of next May. Sreng Meng Srun

Olympic Stadium goes artificial

The iconic Olympic Stadium football pitch will sport a trendy look once its original playing surface, which has lived through decades of historic events, makes way in the next few months for a spread of artificial grass.

The work on the new playing arena began on November 15 and its deadline for completion has been set for May 15.

Thailand-based company CC Grass has been entrusted with the work, estimated to cost around US$500,000. The funding comes from the world governing body FIFA’s Goal Project, which mainly helps member countries with financial support for infrastructure development.

“The relaying of the pitch is hugely important for us. The existing turf was wearing out – maintenance was becoming difficult, especially during the rainy season. We made it a priority this year,” Football Federation of Cambodia spokesman May Tola told the Post.

The Kingdom’s football year, meanwhile, kicks off on January 8 with the preliminary phase of the annual Samdech Hun Sen Cup spread across four centres – Phnom Penh, Takeo, Prey Veng and Kampong Thom.

The capital, as usual, will host the second phase leading to the title round.

The Metfone C-League season takes off on March 25 and all the scheduled matches, until the Olympic Stadium is fit for competition, will be played at the Old Stadium.

Interestingly enough, last season’s two demotees, Kirivong Sok Sen Chey and Albirex Niigata, have worked their way back to the 2015 cycle after finishing top two in the three-team playoff held earlier this month.

With an eye on the ensuing SEA Games in Singapore, the FFC has decided to give the national team at least one month of uninterrupted preparation. The Games will be held between June 5 and 20 next year but, as is tradition, the football competition starts much earlier than the official opening.

National head coach Lee Tae Hoon, whose two-year contract officially ends just after the 28th SEA Games next June, is believed to be working his contacts in South Korea to arrange a two-week camp there for the squad before their trip to Singapore.

Meanwhile, the FFC is in discussion with several ASEAN partners to explore the possibility of Cambodia playing a couple of friendlies, home and away.

“With the SEA Games well in sight, it is mutually beneficial. So we will have two warm-up matches here in Cambodia and play two more away,” said May Tola.

“We have decided to give the best possible support to the national team in its preparations. To ensure full training time, we may put the Metfone C-League matches on hold after the first few weeks.”

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