Vathanaka agrees to Japan transfer

Ismail Vorajee / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
Chan Vathanaka has agreed a one-year loan deal with Japan’s Fujieda MYFC. KT / Yeun Punlue

After more than a year of umming and ahhing, rumor and speculation both here and abroad, Cambodian football’s longest-running transfer saga came to a close on Friday after it was announced that Chan Vathanaka of 2016 Metfone C-League champions Boeung Ket Angkor FC had agreed terms for a season-long loan at Japanese J3-League club Fujieda MYFC.
The news, delivered alongside Boeung Ket general manager Be Makara to invited media at a press conference at Phnom Penh Hotel on Friday, had been anticipated ahead of the imminent 2017 C-League season.
Vathanaka said he was excited to finally realize his dream: “My dream has always been to play overseas and to play in Japan is a dream come true. They have some of the best modern equipment and techniques, so I hope I can take advantage of that. I hope to serve as an example to Cambodians wanting to play abroad.”
Atsuto Oishi, the head coach at Fujieda MYFC, said he had been impressed by Vathanaka during his week-long training stint with the club last November.
“He follows instructions well and his ability on the pitch is very good so we are happy to agree a move for a very talented youngster.”
Vathanaka’s father Chan Chesda, the governor of Kampot province, said he was proud of his son’s achievements. “This is a source of pride for the family and for the whole nation,” he said after the Friday’s press conference.
He said he hoped he would make the most of the opportunity to hone his craft with the innumerable facilities available to sportsmen and women in Japan.
Fujieda is located in Shizuoka prefecture a mere two-hour Shinkansen bullet train ride from the Japanese capital and currently inhabits the third tier of the Japanese footballing pyramid.
Their 2017 campaign is set to get underway in February and the club will be hoping for a promotion tilt with the added firepower of Vathanaka, their new number 11. He will join up with his new teammates midway through February after helping Boeung Ket in their AFC Cup playoff qualifiers against Lao Toyota later this month.
At just 22 and a native of Kampot, Vathanaka has an enviable record since debuting with Preah Khan Reach Svay Rieng FC in 2011 and for whom he scored 10 goals in his solitary year there earning himself the award for Best Young Player.
Sensing his potential, he was snapped up by the Rubbermen just a year later and kick-started his ascent to the peak of Cambodian football. He was top scorer in the 2013 Hun Sen Cup and then claimed his first of three C-League Most Valuable Player awards in 2014.
After notching 35 league goals, and a total of 60 across all competitions for nation and club, Vathanaka finished 2015 as the highest goalscorer in any Southeast Asian nation – though he missed out on a domestic trophy after rivals Phnom Penh Crown retained their title in the playoffs.
He continued his goalscoring feats in the 2016 season scoring a hat-trick against CMAC FC in his first start, going on to plunder 22 league goals as Boeung Ket beat pretenders to the title Ministry of Defense FC and claim only their second league title – and Vathanaka’s second consecutive Golden Boot. After making his debut for the Kingdom’s national team in 2013, Vathanaka has tallied 10 goals in 23 appearances.
For all his promise, he has been plagued with accusations of laziness and a lack of commitment in training hindering his progress. However, Vathanaka told Khmer Times after last year’s TMCC semifinal against Becamex Binh Duong FC, a new training regime inducted by Boeung Ket staff had been key to his remarkable improvement.
“The training I get here is difficult and tough, but it has helped me with my stamina. I can keep going for longer now in matches and I hope it can help me continue to improve in all areas of my game,” he said.
In recent months, and especially after his goalscoring exploits with the Cambodian national team at the regional AFF Suzuki Cup in November, it had become somewhat of an open secret that “CV11” was being wooed by suitors from Cambodia’s larger Asean neighbors.
Kelantan FA of Malaysia and Buriram United of Thailand had been touted as potential employers for Cambodia’s finest forward since the legendary Hok Sochetra.
His Angkor Warrior teammate and former Phnom Penh Crown midfielder Thierry Chantha Bin had already taken advantage of new rules regarding Asean player imports in the Thai League and signed with Krabi FC.
With Vathanaka’s eyes firmly on a move away from the kingdom, his current employers seemed to be imploding around him, perhaps making the difficult decision to leave less of a burden.
 Much respected coach Prak Sovannara recently parted company with the two-time C-League champs, while influential midfield duo Esoh Paul Omogba and Yuya Wada were allowed to leave to try their luck with Myanmar National League champions Yadanarbon FC.
They were joined in recent days by Julius Oiboh who was expected to remain with the club after his inclusion in their BTV Cup and Toyota Mekong Club Championship campaigns late last year. He instead chose to depart for Malaysian outfit Pahang FA.
In an effort to soften the blow of Vathanaka’s departure, his former employers have wasted no time in bringing in a replacement, announcing on Saturday evening they had agreed terms with Brazilian forward Calijuri Maycon Rogerio.
The Brazilian said he looked forward to repaying the faith placed in him by his new club.
“I am very happy to sign with the best club in Cambodia and I hope to do my best to ensure we have a positive season. Many thanks to the club for trusting me. For all the fans I hope I can give all of you a lot of happiness with great results.”
The 30-year old comes to the club via Indonesian club side Persiba Balikpapan, and before time in Thailand and the United Arab Emirates had a successful spell in Europe at Bate Borisov in 2012.
The stakes are high for the new signing who will do well to replicate just a little of what Vathanaka achieved in his short time with the Rubbermen.

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