Young Pioneer Tours

What’s it like to watch football in Cambodia?

What’s it like to watch football in Cambodia? This is a question I never thought I would answer. I have always liked visiting Cambodia, but had not expected to call it home. Well, home it now is.

Watching football in “off the beaten track” places is nothing new to me, I previously had a season ticket for the team in Xi’an. Well, that was until they moved to Shanghai, China following the awful franchise model of the US on this one.

To read about Shaanxi Chamba click here

To read about why YPT runs tours to Cambodia click here

Football in Cambodia
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Football in Cambodia

Cambodia were initially into a bit of football, being a French colony and all, they formed their FA (FKFA) in 1933 and joined FIFA in 1953. Due to the civil war things were to stagnate and then disappear altogether for a while, particularly during Khmer Rouge rule.

To read about the last Khmer Rouge state click here

A national championship was established in 1982 under state run communist lines. This was to morph into the semi-pro C-League in 2005. For sponsorship reasons it is now known as the Metphone C-League.

The C-League and Cambodia might not exactly be powerhouses, but the league is of a decent enough standard and they have the odd foreign marquee player, although these tend to be people that fancy living in Cambodia, rather than high profile transfers.

The Forward Together Cup

We’re currently in pre-season, which means pre-season tournaments. From next week the Hun Sen Cup starts, this is like the FA Cup. The initial rounds being the provincial teams. Then on March 6th the C-League kicks off. For one reason, or another I am going to be going to a lot of these games.

The Forward Cup is a pre-season tournament featuring 4 major teams in Cambodia, namely Visakha FC (the hosts), Preah Khan Reach Svay Rieng FC, Angkor Tiger FC, and Phnom Penh Crown FC.

Football in Cambodia - The tickets

The Stadium (The Prince Stadium Phnom Penh).

Held at the 7000 seater capacity Prince Stadium, home of Visakha FC the 2020 Hun Sen Cup Winners. The stadium is still being partially renovated and whilst there was no hot-dog stand, or indeed any food (at all), they did have a club shop.

I was hoping to celebrate my first ever Cambodian match by buying a Visakha shirt. Alas they only had “Asian Large”. I do not fit into an Asian large.

The stadium though was impressive by all accounts, OK it was not Wembley, but security was taken seriously for sure! I even needed to show my passport to enter. Everyone was wearing a mask and we had to social distance.

The Games

Match one was Visakha FC vs Preah Khan Reach Svay Rieng FC. Visakha took advantage of being at home by going 2-0 up in the first half. Stay Rieng pulled one back early on in the second half, before Viaskha knocked a further 2 in to win by a resounding 4-1 margin.

This left 2 hours until the final match of the day Angkor Tiger FC vs Phnom Penh Crown FC. It was at this point that I really wished there was more to do in the stadium.

The match itself saw the two teams very evenly matched, with both having decent chances to score, yellow cards flying around like nobodies business, but not a goal to be scored. Four minutes into injury time it looked like the game would be heading to penalties, before Phnom Penh Crown FC had a dangerous looking free-kick. Boom right in the top-corner, and yes I got it on video!

Football in Cambodia - Visakha FC - Prince Stadium

Standard of Play for football in Cambodia

The standard of play was much higher than I expected. Obviously you cannot come here and expect world class, but considering these were friendly matches we were treated to a high quality of skills and exciting games.

Khmer football fans are also very passionate and the Visakha “Ultras” known as “The Blue Warriors” sang and banged drums throughout the whole game. This made for a fabulous atmosphere.

To see the Facebook page for the Blue Warriors click here

Should yo go to watch football in Cambodia? Yes you most certainly should! I’ll definitely be going back. Visakha FC for the title? Just maybe….

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