Monday, November 9, 2009
The 25th SEA Games in Laos are nearly upon us. My own focus will be on the football competition that begins a week before the rest of the various sports competitions. I'm even seriously contemplating making the trip to report on the success or otherwise of the Cambodian football team, though my presence is anything but guaranteed. Anyway, the draw for the group stages has been made and Cambodia find themselves in Group A alongside eight-times champions Thailand as well as Vietnam who will be very strong, Malaysia and Timor Leste - yes that's five teams in one group. The matches will begin on 2 December and progression from the group stages will mean a place in the semi-finals. Two teams from each group will make it to a second week at the finals. In Group B, the hosts Laos will meet Myanmar, Singapore and Indonesia. It's a tough draw for Cambodia and they'll want to avenge an 8-0 drubbing handed to them by Thailand in the 2007 SEA Games in Khorat. Two teams aren't competing because Brunei have been banned by FIFA while the Philippines are not putting up a team at this year's SEA Games. The Cambodian Under-23 team will represent the country and they are currently involved in the BIDC Cup, whose format is meant to replicate the SEA Games format to provide them with much needed match practice and games within a couple of days of each other.