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Svay Rieng set to face top Philippine team in group stage

Jose Rodriguez T. Senase / Khmer Times Share:
Ceres-Negros FC of the Philippines (in yellow jersey) will be a tough matchup for PKR Svay Rieng FC. Facebook

Preah Khan Reach Svay Rieng football club will open its campaign in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup 2020 against Ceres-Negros FC of the Philippines.

The PKR Svay Rieng FC versus Ceres-Negros FC game will be held at the Panaad Park and Football Stadium in Bacolod City, Philippines on Feb 11. The game will start at 12 noon.

Conor Nestor, head coach of PKR Svay Rieng FC, said his team will fly to the Philippines for the match on Feb 9.

Nestor said the group stage will be a tough challenge for his team. “It will be one of the biggest tests of our professional career,” he admitted. “But we will face it together and meet it head-on.”

Ceres-Negros FC recently dislodged Buriram FC of Thailand as the number-one football club in Southeast Asia. The team is owned by businessman Leo Ray Yanson, who described their ascent to the top of ASEAN football as the “product of hard work and sacrifices”.

Ceres-Negros FC reached the playoffs of the AFC Champions League but a 2-0 loss to FC Tokyo last week relegated the squad to the AFC Cup. Before losing to the Japanese team, Ceres-Negros FC won against Shan United FC of Myanmar and Port FC of Thailand in the first and second phases of the AFC Cup 2020 qualification.

PKR Svay Rieng FC, for its part, qualified for the group stage after masterful wins against Master 7 FC of Laos in the AFC Cup 2020 playoffs.

For their game against Ceres-Negros FC, PKR Svay Rieng FC will need the best performance from mainstay Jean Befolo “Privat” Mbarga. The forward from Cameroon has been the best player for the Cambodian side in the prior stages of the tournament, including scoring three of his team’s seven goals against Master 7 FC in the playoffs.

PKR Svay Rieng FC is also expected to rely on the attacking prowess of Brazilian striker Thiago de Jesus Santos and midfielder Hoy Phallin. The backline will have US-born Jonny Campbell and defenders Soeuy Visal and Nub Tola as anchors.

It is still not certain if injured forward Prak Mony Udom will play against Ceres-Negros FC. “He is still recovering. It’s 50/50,” Nestor said.

Led by Bosnian team manager Risto Vidaković, Ceres-Negros FC features a coterie of highly talented footballers led by British-Filipino striker James Younghusband, German-born midfielder Stephan Schröck and Belgian-Filipino midfielder Dylan de Bruycker.

Also in Group G are Than Quang Ninh FC of Vietnam and Bali United FC of Indonesia. The two teams are also considered tough matchups for the Cambodian team.

Bali United FC is the reigning champion of Liga 1, the top-flight Indonesian football league, while Than Quang Ninh FC placed third last year in the top-tier V League 1 of Vietnam.

The group stage will be played on a home-and-away round-robin format. This means that teams from each group will face each other twice for the duration of the group stage.

The teams will be ranked according to points (three points for a win, one point for a draw and zero points for a loss).

Thirty-six of the best football clubs in Asia (divided into nine groups) are competing in the group stage, which will be held from Feb 10-Jun 17. The 11 teams (nine group winners and two best runners-up) that will emerge from the group stage will advance to the knockout stages of the continental championship.

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