The group draw for the 2010 Samdech Hun Sen Cup was held in Phnom Penh Thursday with 32 teams from across the Kingdom vying for a place in the last 16.
Managers and coaches of teams from around the country met with Football Federation of Cambodia (FFC) officials Thursday at the Olympic Stadium to hold the group draw for the 2010 Samdech Hun Sen Cup.
In the annual event, now in its fourth instalment, will see each of the four “centres” of Siem Reap, Battambang, Svay Rieng and Kep, feature eight teams split into two groups. These groups will compete in a round-robin format to determine the top two from each that will combine to make up the 16-team knockout phase held at Olympic Stadium from January 30. The final is scheduled for Saturday, March 6.
Battambang: Groups A & B
In the Battambang division, two-time winners Phnom Penh Crown (2008, 2009) will host Battambang, Banteay Meanchey, Pailin and Rithy Sen from Kampong Chhnang in Group A. National Defence Ministry heads Group B, which includes Pursat, Mekong Kampuchea University and an as yet unannounced team from Kampong Chhnang.
Siem Reap: Groups C & D
The Siem Reap division features Build Bright United (who finished third in 2008) in Group C, along with Preah Vihear, Prek Pra Keila and Red Lion. In Group D, Naga Corp (runners-up in 2007 and 2009) will host Siem Reap, Kampong Thom and Oddar Meanchey.
Kep: Groups E & F
Navy outfit Phouchung Neak join Kirivong Sok Sen Chey (Takeo), Kampot and Life University (Preah Sihanouk) in Group E competing in Kep, while Post Tel Club will host Kep Kang Reach Sey, Koh Kong and Wat Phnom Club (formerly Spark FC) in Group F.
Svay Rieng: Groups G & H
In Svay Rieng, 2007 champions Khemara Keila will face Prey Veng, Ariston School and Samnang Aphivath (Kandal) in Group G, as Preah Khan Reach (runners-up in 2008, third in 2009) head Group H, which includes Svay Rieng, BBWorld and Kratie.
Ouk Sethycheat, general secretary of the FFC, said during Thursday’s announcement ceremony that he was pleased with the growing number of teams that participate in the Samdech Hun Sen Cup competition.
“Our preparation gets better from year to year,” he said. “I hope that all involved in the event will continue to work for greater development in the Kingdom’s football sector.”
Foreign players forbidden
May Tola, FFC deputy general secretary, announced changes in the rules governing cup competition, which now prohibits participation by foreign players. Previously foreign players with teams that made it to the final 16 were allowed to compete.
The rules also stipulate that each team must include at least two players under the age of 17 among a total of 30 players per side.
“We want all clubs to encourage the participation of young people,” May Tola said. “This will be a good thing for the development of Cambodian football.”
Changes to competition rules, however, raised concerns from some team officials.
Be Makara, manager of Phnom Penh Crown, said the Samdech Hun Sen Cup is the most important event of the year, and that teams should be allowed to use their best players instead of youngsters with no experience.
“It’s great that the FFC aims to develop football, but we can create another league for the youngsters – a U17 league, for example,” he remarked.
Referees come under fire
Others expressed concern for who every footballer is prone to quarrel with – officials.
“Wrong decisions will affect match results and the feelings of the footballers,” said Hul Sakda, Kang Reach Sey manager.
FFC General Secretary Ouk Sethy Cheat said officials have always done their best to keep play fair, but that errors were inevitable. He added that tournament referees will be under the supervision of Japan’s Karakida Tetsu, and that as in the past, “we would also suspend some referees” for making egregious mistakes.
Hul Sakda also raised the issue of security, particularly with respect to the fans of host teams. “For the ones who know the sport well, there will likely be few problems,” he asserted. “But for those who ignore the rules, there could be conflicts.
Ouk Sethy Cheat said organisers have good relations with local authorities, and that security would not be a problem, adding that the FFC President Sao Sokha is also head of the National Gendarmerie. “We hope that managers and coaches do not push players to create conflicts. If problems do arise, we must find peaceful ways to resolve them based on the rules of play,” the FFC official stated.
Prize money for 2010
Samdech Hun Sen Cup
Champion: 80 million riels
Runner Up: 40 million riels
Third place: 20 million riels
Top Scorer: 1 million riels
Best goalkeeper: 1 million riels
Best referees: 5 million riels
Fair Play: 5 million riels