Sunday, October 25, 2009
Time for an update on the SEA Games that will take place in Laos from 9-18 December this year. It's the 25th SEA Games and there's been a building frenzy underway in Vientiane to accommodate all the sports that will be competed for by the 11 nations involved. Football is the main one as far as I'm concerned though Cambodia may have better chances to gain medals in such sports as petanque, where they won two gold medals in the last games in Khorat in 2007. The football competition will be competed for by the Under-23 teams from each country and Cambodia's U-23s have been busy preparing at their training camp in Saigon for the last few weeks. They return home to play in the 4-team BIDC Cup in Phnom Penh from 8-14 November when Laos U23 and two Vietnamese club sides, Hoang Anh Gia Lai (HAGL) and Vissai Ninh Binh will match up in a round-robin competition. The winners will receive $20,000 so its not to be sniffed at and the match practice will be just what the doctor ordered for Scott O'Donell's young team. As for the Laos U23 team, they've already won a 4-team pre-SEA Games tourney in Laos earlier this month, overcoming Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia no less and will be itching to win again before hosting the SEA Games. Whilst the BIDC Cup is underway, Hanoi in Vietnam will host another 4-team U23 competition involving the hosts, Thailand, Singapore and China. It looks like everyone and their dog is getting games under their belt before the qualifying games start in earnest in Vientiane on 2nd December, a little earlier than the main competition dates. In the last SEA Games in Khorat in December 2007, the Cambodia U23s lost all three games, 3-1 to Indonesia, 8-0 to Thailand and 6-2 to Myanmar and that's where national coach Scott O'Donell is looking to improve. To qualify would be a major achievement for the Cambodian team though an improvement on their last showing is their immediate aim. The qualifying round draw has yet to take place. Thailand have won the football competition for 8 consecutive SEA Games, beating Myanmar in the 2007 final, 2-0.