PHNOM PENH (Khmer Times) – The first entrant for the upcoming Toyota Mekong Club Championship has been announced and, as expected, reigning champions Becamex Binh Duong FC of Vietnam will defend their 2014 crown in this season’s prestigious regional tournament. The Vietnamese champions secured a rare domestic double after overcoming Hanoi T&T this weekend in the Vietnamese National Cup.
The Binh Duong-based side had, in the previous weekend, wrapped up the 2015 V.League 1 championship, their second in succession, with games to spare.
However, despite the straightforward nature of their cup win, it was bittersweet as they awaited the recovery of enigmatic striker Abass Cheikh Dieng. The Senegalese forward suffered a horrific broken leg during the cup final and will miss out on the Mekong Club Championship. His injury will keep him off the field of play for at least six months.
In a scene reminiscent of Manchester United defender Luke Shaw’s injury at the hands of PSV Eindhoven’s Hector Moreno earlier in the month, T&T’s Thanh Hoa ploughed into the African in a horrific tackle with little regard for Abass’s welfare. Thanh Hoa’s challenge – if it could be called such – duly snapped Abass’ leg at the ankle leaving him writhing in pain on the pitch. He was stretchered off the pitch and immediately transported to hospital for specialist care.
Club general director Cao Van Chong was eager to welcome the challenge posed by other Mekong region countries and urged fans to show their support.
“The fans in each country in particular and in the Mekong region in general, please support your clubs more so that someday, we can turn this league into a real Mekong Champions League,” he said after the club’s title win.
Cambodian Club Side to Begin Bid in Laos
Cambodia’s representatives for the competition have yet to be decided as the Metfone C-League races towards its October 22nd crescendo.
The club to finish top at the end of this second-stage of league competition will have the chance of participating in the five-nation tournament, which is now in its second-year of competition.
Phnom Penh Crown FC took part last year, finishing in third place after a 5-2 opening game defeat to Binh Duong was followed by a 2-0 win over Hoang Anh Attapeu FC of Lao.
This year, the successful Cambodian side will head to Laos on Sunday, November 1 to face off against the champions of the Laos Premier League, before hosting the Myanmar champions later in the month on Sunday, November 29 at Phnom Penh’s Olympic Stadium.
Either of Lao, Myanmar or Cambodia will then proceed to the December 6 semifinals against Becamex Binh Duong in Hanoi, Vietnam. The final will pit the semifinal victors against the winners of the Thai League Cup on Sunday, December 20 at Bangkok’s Supachalasai Stadium. The clubs will all play for a share of total prize-money of $173,000, $75,000 of which will go to the championship winner.