The sports ban in place is hindering the preparations of Preah Khan Reach Svay Rieng football club for the resumption of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup 2020.
The group stage of the continental championship was suspended in early March due to the coronavirus outbreak. The escalating health crisis forced the AFC to indefinitely suspend the tournament later on.
This week, there are reports in the Vietnamese and Hong Kong media the AFC Cup will resume this July.
Asked on this, PKR Svay Rieng FC head coach Conor Nestor said they have yet to receive an official confirmation from the governing body of Asian football. “I haven’t heard any details yet,” he noted.
Whether the AFC Cup returns in July or not, it appears that the biggest concern for the Cambodian side is the lack of preparation due to restrictions imposed after the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.
In early April, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports implemented a nationwide ban on all sports activities to stem the spread of the deadly virus. The ban remains in force.
“At the moment, we are still restricted to no more than 10 people together at once. So obviously, if that law remains we won’t be ready because we cannot prepare properly,” Nestor said.
The pandemic and restrictions which followed forced PKR Svay Rieng FC to suspend its training programme.
“But we will follow the regulations and do what’s best for the wider community,” he added.
Once the AFC Cup resumes, the first match for PKR Svay Rieng FC will see it pitted against Vietnamese powerhouse Than Quang Ning FC. It will be a rematch of sorts after Than Quang Ninh FC beat the Cambodian team, 4-1, in their first outing in Phnom Penh two month ago.
The upcoming match is crucial, with both teams needing wins to solidify their chances of advancing to the next round. Only the top finisher from each group plus the two best runners-up will advance past the group stage.
The two teams are in Group G, together with Ceres-Negros FC of the Philippines and Bali United FC of Indonesia.
Ceres-Negros FC is leading the group with seven points after registering two wins and a draw. Than Quang Ninh FC is next with four points after a 1-1-1 record so far. Bali United FC and PKR Svay Rieng FC have three points each. But goal differential pushed the Indonesian team ahead in the standings.