Fans from all walks of life, players and officials are longing for the return of football in Cambodia, particularly of the top-flight Metfone Cambodian League.
To the dismay yet acceptance of many, Cambodian football games were suspended in late March as the coronavirus spread through the Kingdom. In addition to the MCL, the other tournaments affected include the KMH Cup and Hun Sen Cup.
The U-18 National Championship and U-16 National Championship, which have yet to be played, could also find themselves postponed, together with the 2020 General Assembly of the Football Federation of Cambodia (FFC).
The general sentiment among the football fans who posted their comments on the Facebook pages of the FFC and MCL is they missed watching the games and wanted it to resume as soon as possible.
In particular, one fan by the name of Kong Makara who spoke to the Cambodian National Competitions Committee (CNCC), complained of how he misses it as he has been away for a long time from the football pitch.
Kong, who is an avid fan of Boeung Ket football club, said he is often at stadiums during the weekends to cheer for his team.
Another fan, this time a follower of Phnom Penh Crown FC by the name of Pu Yak, said he was frustrated because his team was ‘winning’ before the League was suspended on its fifth week.
Phnom Penh Crown FC is second in the standings with a total of 11 points after accumulating three wins and two draws. Phnom Penh Crown FC was leading for most of the season before a late surge by defending champion Preah Khan Reach Svay Rieng FC relegated it to the second spot, two points ahead of third-ranking Visakha FC.
A top official of one of the teams playing in the MCL, who asked not to be identified, said it would also be good for football to resume.
In addition to the business side, he said football gives hope and happiness to the people of Cambodia.
“I believe sports, especially football should resume with some risk management,” the official said.
He noted some countries with more cases of coronavirus infection like South Korea and Germany have allowed their football leagues to resume.
Germany’s top flight Bundesliga resumed their matches on May 6, though no fans were allowed to watch courtside. In South Korea, the K-League resumed a week earlier, with only the players, officials and media allowed on the stadium.
There are also reports that players, who have been reduced to online training and other forms of limited training outside the pitch, are angling to return to action.
Despite clamour from many quarters and the fact the spread of coronavirus in Cambodia is largely under control, sports and football officials have yet to decide when the MCL and other football leagues will go back to action.
Cambodia had 122 cases of coronavirus infection, with no new cases reported for more than a month.
In a previous media briefing, Keo Sarath, the general-secretary of the FFC, said the resumption of football depends on the lifting of the ban on sports and when it is declared safe for games to resumes.
A blanket ban on sports activities implemented in early April is still in place. Though, there are hopes it will be lifted soon with the improving coronavirus situation in the Kingdom.
Cambodia’s stance is markedly different from that of its neighbours.
The Football Association of Thailand announced earlier football leagues there will re-start in September. In Vietnam, the Vietnam Football Federation said competitions can resume in the third week of May if the pandemic is under control by then.
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