Even as the countdown to the World Cup qualifying matches winds down, Cambodian Football Association officials have been unable to meet with government authorities in their search for a new venue.
Because Phnom Penh’s Olympic Stadium is in the middle of a $3.6-million renovation, the Cambodian Football Federation is desperately searching for another stadium that meets international standards for the three qualifying matches Cambodia is scheduled to host, beginning April 15.
Although football association officials had hoped to meet with officials from the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, thus far they have been forced to wait, said the football association’s general secretary, Keo Sareth.
“[The Ministry] gave us one meeting so far, but they did not say anything,” Keo Sareth said.
CFA representatives had been waiting for two days for word on what to do about the stadium dilemma, but had not received a response as of Wednesday afternoon.
It is not clear what would happen if the officials cannot find a suitable replacement for Olympic Stadium in time for the matches.
Olympic Stadium has sat idle since late May, when a Taiwanese company won a $40-million contract to rehabilitate both the stadium grounds and the surrounding neighborhoods.
Keo Sareth said earlier this week he had hoped to talk the Taiwanese company into accelerating their schedule and completing the football field first, but he said government officials have determined that would violate the current contract.
Few stadiums seem to fit the bill, Keo Sareth has said. Stadiums in the provinces that are the appropriate size are remote and inaccessible by roads. There was a chance a stadium in Siem Reap would be useful, but that too must await word from the government, Keo Sareth said.
During the World Cup qualifiers, Cambodia will host three matches: April 15 against the Maldives, April 29 versus Indonesia and May 6 against China, according to a schedule by FIFA, football’s governing body.