The number of foreign players with Cambodian football clubs has more than doubled this year due in part to an increase in Thai, South Korean and Vietnamese players, Football Federation of Cambodia officials said Tuesday.
FFC Vice President Keo Sarin said 37 foreign players—up from 16 last year—were registered with the 13 sides competing for the Samdech Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen Cup in 2008.
Of those, 14 came from Nigeria, eight from Cameroon, four each from Thailand and Vietnam, three from South Korea, two from Ghana and one each from Congo and Sierra Leone.
Keo Sarin said the increase in foreign footballers is due to the “wide-open” policy of the FFC’s President and National Military Police Commander Sao Sokha in order to improve the standard of football in Cambodia and attract more supporter and sponsors.
“[Sao Sokha’s] policy is that foreign players will make the games more interesting,” he said, adding that the FFC plans to change its rules to allow more foreign players per team, increasing it from a maximum of three to five per squad.
FFC Secretary General Ouk Sethycheat said foreign players are helping their local team members to improve their skills on the pitch.
“Our technique is not up to the standard of neighboring countries. They will make us better,” he said.
Ly Sopheark, who owns Phnom Penh Empire FC, said Wednesday he had brought in a coach and three players from Thailand last December and another Thai footballer would arrive soon. The fans, he added, have been supportive of the Thais on the team. “Football is a sport and the fans recognize that,” Ly Sopheark said.
Khim Suy, who coaches the Kirivong Sok Sen Chey team, said his club had four Vietnamese players, who have been playing without pay at the request of CPP Cabinet Minister Sok An, who owns the club. The fans have shown no antipathy toward the Vietnamese players, he added.
Also, female students from 18 high schools across the country began the national girls’ football championship in Takeo on March 21, FFC media officer Tep Phany said. The tournament continues until April 1.