Football Premier League Starts—With the Ante Up

The Cambodian Premier League kicked off last weekend with 10 football clubs competing for a $15,000 prize, Football Federation of Cambodia Deputy Secretary-General May Tola said Monday.

The nation’s football faithful can expect an exciting season featuring more teams, talent and prize money, May Tola said, as well as matches on Wednesdays this year in addition to Saturdays and Sundays.

“The players have become semi-professionals; before, they were just amateurs,” May Tola said.

Two new clubs join the field this year, May Tola said. Kratie province formed Moha Garuda FC, and Cabinet Minister Sok An has formed the Kirivong Sok Sen Chey FC, based in his hometown of Takeo.

Also, the Red Eagle FC was bought out by Posts and Tele­communications Minister So Khan and is now called Red Eagle Posts FC, May Tola said.

Last year’s prize money was $5,000 for the champion, May Tola said, an amount that was tripled this year thanks to efforts by FFC President and National Military Police Commander Sao Sokha to increase sponsorship.

Second place will receive $7,500; third place $5,000; fourth place $2,500; and fifth place $1,250.

The addition of two teams and the rise in the number of foreign players will make it difficult for 2007 champion NagaCorp FC to retain its title, said the club’s manager Michael Nen.

“The level of play is high,” Nen said, adding: “It is different [this year] because of more foreigners on all teams.”

On Saturday at Olympic Stad­ium in Phnom Penh, Phuchung Neak FC started its season with a 3-2 victory over Build Bright University. The match was followed Sunday by Khemera FC’s 3-1 win over Kirivong Sok Sen Chey and Red Eagle Posts FC’s 3-2 win over Moha Garuda FC.

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