The 32nd SEA Games have kicked off in Cambodia, with the start of the tournament that matters the football. The games being marketed as 2023 Cambodia are being hosted in the county for the first time, so we went to check out day 1.
Controversy at the 32nd SEA Games
The start of the games comes after probably more controversy than has even happened at an event. Most of this has been around whether you should say Muoy Thai, or Kun Khmer, but also over other things such as broadcasting rights and to be honest petty things.
One might even say that Cambodia’e neighbour has been a little childish.
Football at the 32nd SEA Games
Football at the 32nd SEA Games features 10 of the 11 ASEAN member, or associate member nations (as in Timor-Leste) and works on an under 22 basis.
To read my interview with the Timor-Leste President click here.
There are two groups of five with the top two from each group going onto the medal round, gold, silver, bronze and nada. Cambodia are hoping for a bronze at least….
Indonesia 3 Philippines 0
The opening match did not actually see Cambodia play, with heat and people needing to finish work being taken into account one assumes. Instead it saw Indonesia sink the Philippines 3-0, with two late injury time goals.
The Philippines were indeed crucified, but not a level we saw in April (top pun).
To read about the 2023 Cutud Lenten Rites click here.
The Big Match Cambodia 4 Timor-Leste 0
This was match where I at least had mixed loyalties. I know the President of Timor after all, but also a number of their players, such as captain Mouzinho. Alas me wishing him luck did nothing to help.
To read my interview with Mouzinho click here.
Cambodia were the better side from the off and two goals either side of half-time wee enough to seal the deal here.
You can read a full match report here
And we got to see a revamped National Olympic Stadium
Its no secret that YPT are a bit obsessed with this venue, with it having hosted the “Olympics of the Left” AKA GANEFO, as well as being the ground where North Korea qualified for the 1966 World Cup.
You can read about GANEFO here
You can read bout its role helping North Korea here.
That they had revamped the ground just helped to show just how full circle the country has come since the weird era of the Cold War and the brutal regime of the Khmer Rouge and Democratic Kampuchea.
To read about Pol Pot click here.
And you really have to say that the old girl was looking good, and felt much more homely than the Morodok Stadium, which is opposite the Win-Win Monument.
To read about the Win-Win policy click here.
Will the 32nd SEA Games be a success?
Be it sport or business there is never anything that is a sure thing, but if day one was to go by the early signs are indeed good.
Security was tip-top, the tickets and overall organisation seemed to work and most importantly the games went by without hitch. To expect there to be no issues at all, particularly as we are in South-East Asia would be folly, but small mistakes should not drawn out what will hopefully prove to be an enduring legacy for the Cambodian people.