Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Tough draw

The AFC President's Cup - a trophy we just failed to capture last year
I will head for the Tajikistan capital of Dushanbe in late September - yes I know, where the heck is that? - but the task that lies before us was made that bit harder today as my team, Phnom Penh Crown were handed the toughest possible draw in the final group stage of the AFC President's Cup. The draw was made in a  plush hotel in the Tajik capital this morning and pitted Crown against not only the two times winners of the cup, Dordoi from next-door neighbours Kyrgyzstan, who have also been beaten in the final on four other occasions, but the Tajik champions and home team, Istiklol. Both nations are former Russian Republics and I wouldn't be surprised if their teams are made up of former Olympic shot-putters and sprint champions. We've already lost to a last minute penalty against Dordoi in the qualifying round in May, so we've got a score to settle when we face them. Group A has just three teams and the group winners will meet the first-placed team from Group B in the final of the AFC President's Cup on 30 September. The teams from Group B hail from Chinese Taipei, Palestine and Pakistan. Crown are still smarting form the injustices of last season's competition, where we became the first Cambodian team to reach the final of a major Asian club championship, only to lose 3-2 in controversial circumstances to Taiwan Power, who are in Group B this time around.

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