The Metfone C-League season gets its long-awaited kick-off for the 2019 chapter tomorrow – 167 days after NagaWorld were crowned 2018 champions.
The 2019 season is set for 26 rounds of games equaling a total of 182 games. The final matchday is expected to be October 27. As last season, there will be no playoff to determine the final champions.
NagaWorld claimed last season’s championship bringing to a close almost a decade without the league trophy in Naga hands. Their 18 wins, 2 draws and 2 losses saw them edge out back to back champs Boeung Ket who finished the season in second.
Previously, their last win had come in 2009 then known as NagaCorp. They also triumphed in 2007.
Naga, hoping to maintain their momentum have brought back African hitman Atuheire Kipson, a 2017 C-League Golden Boot winner, while also adding midfielder Esoh Paul Omogba from rivals Boeung Ket.
Former champions Boeung Ket have been quiet on the transfer front although have kept on Nigerian forward Samuel Gbenga Ajayi as well as brought in a slew of foreign talent.
Elsewhere, Members of Phnom Penh Crown’s first-team squad announced a move to rivals Visakha. Sin Kakada and In Sodavid, along with Ouk Sovann, Kim Chhaya and Ken Chansopheak were all presented to the press much to the displeasure of Crown.
Crown have themselves strengthened bringing in former National Team head coach Leonardo Vitorino. The Brazilian was quick to recruit five foreign players – four of whom are also Brazilians.
The Cambodia National Competitions Committee (CNCC) which oversees the league also revealed a number of modifications to this season’s competition.
The Football Federation of Cambodia is expected to enforce the requirement it first announced in January 2018, that all clubs participating in the league have access to their own stadium. In past seasons, many of the league’s clubs have shared the National Stadium or the Old Stadium.
The Federation is seeking to modernise the game in Cambodia and bring it up to regional and Asian Football Confederation standards.
Phnom Penh Crown have long played their home ties at the RSN Stadium, while Preah Khan Reach Svay Rieng play their home matches at the Svay Rieng Stadium. The Ministry of National Defense are based at the RCAF (Old) Stadium, with Western FC playing at Western Stadium.
Cambodian Tiger play their home matches in Siem Reap. Meanwhile, Asia Europe United will utilize AEU Sport Park while Electricité du Cambodge have the EDC Stadium. Visakha also are set-to take the wraps off their new stadium in coming days.
League champions NagaWorld and Boeung Ket, will consider alternative arrangements until their stadiums are completed.
The number of clubs involved in the league is also set to hit 14 with Kampong Cham and Bati Academy added to the mix.
It was also reported there are no plans to increase prizemoney of $15,000 for the champions.
The figure pales in comparison to regional neighbours – in Thailand and Vietnam, the winners can expect to fill their coffers with a reported $300,000 to $500,000, although attendances and sponsorship attract much more.
Chhang Piseth, executive secretary at the CNCC, said prize awards for the league or the Hun Sen Cup had not yet been formally decided.
“For the bonus, the Chairman of the Board of Directors will consider internally with executive members, he said. “And we will release [details] in the future.”
The opening match of the C-League is at EDC Stadium and pits Electricte du Cambodge against league newcomers Kampong Cham at 3:30pm tomorrow. Tomorrow evening, the Cambodia ‘Clasico’ will see Crown welcome Beoung Ket to RSN Stadium – a game which should ensure plenty of fireworks on the opening day.