Khmer Times/Ismail Vorajee Thursday, 12 January 2017 1880 views

Crown strengthens amid BK exodus

Phnom Penh Crown FC has moved to bolster their squad with foreign talent ahead of the 2017 C-League season, which gets underway next month, and more imminently the 2017 AFC Cup qualifying double-header against Singapore’s Home United. Their rival and current Metfone C-League champion Boeung Ket continues to struggle to keep hold of their stars.

Japanese duo Futa Nakamura, 25, and Chiharu Kosuge, 27, have signed on at Cambodia’s most successful club side alongside Ukrainian attacking midfielder Volodymyr Ordynskyi, 31, with all three making an appearance in Crown’s 2-0 friendly match defeat to the Cambodian national team at RSN Stadium on Tuesday.

“I’m very excited to play for Phnom Penh Crown and I will do my best to become a champion with the club. This is my goal,” said defender Chiharu, who also goes by the name Haru.

Crown has also shaken up the backroom staff, announcing the appointment of Noriaki Ikeda as the club’s new general manager. The Tokyo-born Noriaki was previously general manager of former C-League club Albirex Niigata Phnom Penh FC. The past year has seen Noriaki work as marketing manager with the Football Association of Singapore.

Commenting after his appointment, Noriaki said he was looking forward to the challenge of helping Crown recapture their former glory.

“I am very happy to take on the GM position at Crown, in my eyes the leading Cambodian football club, and I am looking forward to contributing to the development of the first-team and the club’s grassroots activities. I believe there are many things I can do and I want to play my part in the development of Cambodian football as a whole.”

Crown also bolstered their coaching staff with the addition of Ukrainian assistant coach Anatolii Bondarenko. The former Druha Liga regular holds a UEFA B Licence coaching qualification and will, together with compatriot and Crown head coach Oleg Starynskyi, look to help Crown recover their status as Cambodia’s best club side.

Crown, winners of the C-League in 2014 and 2015, suffered a poor 2016 campaign finishing fifth in the league standings.

While Crown made much-needed additions, the exodus continues unabated at bitter rivals Boeung Ket Angkor.

The recent dismissal of coach Prak Sovannara followed the departure of midfield duo Yuya Wada and Esoh Paul Omogba to Myanmar National League champs Yadanarbon FC. And on Tuesday, reports suggested that Julius Oiboh, the club’s much-traveled African forward, had agreed to a one-year contract with Malaysian Premier League club Pahang FA.

Oiboh recently returned to the Kingdom in December from an extended spell in Thailand, and was part of the squad in the BTV Cup and the 2016 Toyota Mekong Club Championship.

However, Oiboh, a former C-League golden boot winner, took the chance to play in the Malaysian top tier league, which starts its season on January 20, leaving the Rubbermen scrambling for a replacement with little over a month to go until the 2017 C-League season kicks off.

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