Football competitions, including the Metfone Cambodian League (MCL), are set to return in early July.
On its website, the Cambodian National Competitions Committee (CNCC), said Cambodia’s top-flight football league will resume its matches on July 4, more than three months after it was temporarily halted due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The 2020 Season of the MCL was in its fifth week when it was suspended in late March. At that time, it was feared that continuing the games will contribute to the virus spreading further.
Initially, it was believed the suspension will only last a few weeks, but football officials have had to extend it longer after a blanket sports ban came into effect in early April.
However, with the coronavirus seemingly under control, sports officials relaxed its restrictions on sporting activities on May 26, paving the way for the return of football.
The CNCC said the first leg of the tournament will continue until September 13. The second leg, meanwhile, will start on Sept 20 and end on October 25.
The MCL hold their matches every weekend.
Defending champion Preah Khan Reach Svay Rieng football club are leading in the standings and are favoured to repeat this year. Though, other teams like second placer Phnom Penh Crown FC, Visakha FC, Boeung Ket FC and Angkor Tiger FC are expected to give the Svay Rieng-based team tough competition going to the top.
The news that the MCL is returning next month is generating excitement among the players, who have mostly been relegated to limited or online training while the pandemic was raging.
“I am really anxious for it to return. It’s been too long without football,” Jonathan “Jonny” Campbell, the star defender for PKR Svay Rieng FC, said.
“I love training and being back with the family. But there is nothing like official matches, I mean the rush and competitiveness of an official match,” he added.
For fans who have been longing for the return of football, they will once again enjoy the spectacle of watching their favourite teams and players, though they can only watch via the Internet or through their television sets.
Like the other sports activities, fans will not be allowed courtside. Participants are limited to 100 people and the athletes, are also not allowed to hug or shake each other’s hands and are required to maintain proper hygiene and social distancing.