Football Championship Coming to Phnom Penh

For the first time, Cambodia will host games for the Asean Football Federation’s championships for under 17-year-old players beginning Aug 19, football officials said Thursday.

“This is the first time in Cam­bodia,” Sao Sokha, president of the Football Federation of Cam­bodia, said of the tournament.

The event will cost $150,000, with $50,000 coming from the AFF and $100,000 coming from private sponsors, said Sao Sokha, who is also national military police commander.

Tickets for the games, which will all be held at Phnom Penh’s Olym­pic Stadium, will range from $0.25 to $1, Sao Sokha said, adding that the games will also be broadcast on TV3.

“This is the first time that we sell tickets [for games at the stadium],” Sao Sokha said. “We hope that fans participate to support and encourage the sport.”

There will be 24 matches during the 12-day tournament, with two matches per day, between 2 and 6 pm, said Ok Saphan, deputy director of the tourney’s media committee. Previous matches in the under-17 tournament were held in Thailand and Vietnam, he added.

Cambodia will initially play teams in the tournament’s A Group, which also includes Brunei, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia, Sao Sokha said. Group B includes Singapore, Vietnam, East Timor, Laos and Burma. The Philippines is not participating in the event, said Ok Saphan, but he did not know why.

“They are all strong teams except Brunei,” Sao Sokha said. “We will try our best because the U-17 football [programs] are all similar to each other.”

Prak Sovannara, coach of Cam­bodia’s U-17 team, said he was hopeful they would reach the semi-finals. “After practicing with the various big clubs in Cambodia, we have a lot of hope,” he said.

Scott O’Donell, coach of the Cam­bodia men’s national team, said the fans would also be key.

“It’s a big advantage when you’re playing at home in front of your supporters,” he said.

            (Additional reporting by Joe Tarr)


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