Thursday, December 10, 2009

Viets in the driving seat

The Laos Women's Magazine team, that interviewed me the other day, in action
Tomorrow afternoon will be the final game of Cambodia's football SEA Games adventures, when they face their near neighbours Vietnam at the Chao Anouvong stadium at 3pm, in the bright sunshine. Scott O'Donell has said he may make one or two changes to the team that lost to Malaysia. Cambodia cannot qualify, but Vietnam can make sure they do if they get at least a point against us. They cannot rely on Thailand beating Malaysia in the other game. Cambodia will be playing for their pride whilst I expect Vietnam to play their usual fast-paced, aggressive style even though relations between the two countries have never been so cordial. Not only did Vietnam sponsor the BIDC Cup but they provided their facilities at Thanh Long for the Cambodian team to train there for six weeks prior to the Games. Vietnamese money is flowing into Cambodia and Laos at a great rate of knots at the moment, their investments and their influence is mushrooming all the time, whilst Thailand's is on the wane. This is reflected in their football too. The support here for the Vietnamese far outstrips that of Thailand, both at the games and on the streets. The Vietnamese have come here to grab the SEA Games by the scruff of the neck and dominate it. They have flooded the place with journalists to report every eye-twitch and the whole of Vietnam is tuning in nightly for sports updates I'm told. Meanwhile, the moneybags of Singapore have their own recovery centre near the Games Village, where the footballers can relax, get a massage, or a hot and cold bath or find something else to pass the time until their next game. Inside the Games Village the relaxation facilities for competitors is practically zero, with no games room and just two tv's per block of athletes.
A look at the Chao Anouvong stadium before the spectators are let in
The lull before the storm at Chao Anouvong stadium, which holds between 5,000 and 10,000. No-one is quite sure.
The stadium is searched by army mine-dector teams before each game
The new national stadium 16kms outside of the city
The scoreboard end at the national stadium
The national stadium should hold 20,000 but the public address announced 40,000 on the opening day of the football!
My vote for the best defender in the SEA Games goes to Thailand's skipper Kiatprawut Sawaeo who spent a year at Man City but couldn't get a work permit

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