No real surprises
The team leave the Olympic Stadium just after 7am tomorrow morning and will cross the Cambodian-Laos border at Dong Kralor before an overnight stop en route at Pakse. Day 2 will be the eight to ten hour bus ride to the Lao capital Vientiane, where the 25th SEA Games are being held. The players will be housed in the athletes village and will be assigned a training location on arrival. Their first match isn't until 4 December which will give them an opportunity to see all their four opponents in Group A in action before they meet Thailand in their opening game. It's a tough opener for Cambodia as Thailand have won the last eight SEA Games football gold medals and beat their Khmer opponents 8-0 in the last SEA encounter in Khorat in 2007.
At the press conference this afternoon, led by Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema and the national Military Police commander Sao Sokha, various sponsors raised the stakes with financial incentives of up to $56,000 if the Cambodian team carry off the gold medal. The sponsors also promised monetary rewards for silver and bronze medals too. The sponsors were BBWorld, Crown Casino & Resort and the Ministry of Education, Youth & Sport. MetFone also promised individual incentives for the players and team as a whole, based on goals scored. A couple of days ago Thailand announced sums of over $150,000 if their team win the gold medal for the 9th consecutive time. The press conference attracted cameras from the numerous television channels including TV3, Bayon, Apsara, CTN, and more as well as the printed media as well.
I will be travelling with the team to Laos, to report on the SEA Games for the Phnom Penh Post, so this blog will be quiet for a couple of days as we hit the roads of Cambodia and our northern neighbour Laos. I'll bring you up to date with events on the road as soon as I can.