The Cambodian Premier League (CPL) have announced the return of the controversial League Cup for 2023, including format, schedule and eligibility.
First introduced in 2022 during a break in fixtures, the 2023 competition is slated to take place during the extended pre-season related to the league moving from a calendar year season into a 2023/24 competition, in line with Europe and other major Asian leagues.
2023 Cambodian League Cup format
Once again it will involve 16 tams with 8 from CPL 1 and 8 from the second division. There will then be 4 groups of 4 consisting of 2 clubs from each division. The top two clubs will then go into the knockout phases which will end with a League Cup final.
Participation wise all 8 top—tier sides have to compete, while the 8 from the second division being asked to “apply”. to take part.
Quite how many and indeed if the desired amount apply to take part is yet to be seen, with most clubs particularly in the lower echelons of the league losing money on the 2022 tournament. A situation unlikely to change without a sponsor and prize money for those taking part.
There is also the small matter of who will actually take part in the next CPL 2 season, with rumours of some clubs withdrawing and uncertainty on how strict club licensing rules will be.
How many players can be registered?
Photo: CPL (2022 Cambodian Premier League Cup Groups)
Each club can register up to 35 players, 5 of whom can be foreign, with the same requirements for Under 22 players remaining in place. Unlike previous seasons all 5 foreign players can be part of the match day squad, although only 4 can be on the pitch at once.
To read our piece on removing the foreign player quotas click here
One of the big problems is that many clubs, such as Angkor Tiger among barely have eleven players, opting to reduce costs during the extended off-season. While second division clubs such as Next Step FC among others questioning whether it would financially viable to enter, with a club representative stating they were “reviewing the viability of if we will apply to enter the League Cup”.
It was not all doom and gloom though with Svay Rieng head coach Conor Nestor telling us “The competition is far from perfect, but it will at least provide some match time, rather than what would essentially amount to a 6 month offseason”.
When will the 2023 Cambodian League Cup commence
The official start is scheduled for February 14th 2023, with the final being held sometime in March in time for pre-season.
Interestingly the cup winner will also be the unsocial 2023 Cambodian champions, with the rejigging of the season meaning a new CPL champion will not be crowned until 2024.
You can check out the CPL Facebook page here.
This article is adapted from BPVE SPORT Cambodia, reported and edited from the great team – Cambodia Sports Review.