“Is Gascoigne gonna shoot? He is you know! Oh my word!!”
The words rattle round my head as if they are being said hear and now. It was 1991, FA Cup semi final and my first clear football memory aged 6. Gascoigne had just scored one of the greatest goals every seen at Wembley and against Arsenal. I was jumping around the living room in my Spurs shirt the happiest I’d ever been.
The FA Cup… ..
The English FA Cup is one of the worlds oldest competitions and every football fan who has watched English football will know it. To us English fans our favorite football memories come from this competition. It was all always extra special for me, the 3rd round of the FA Cup, when all the big teams enter, was always the first week of January and fell right around my birthday. My friends would stay over that weekend, the living room was set up like a football pitch and discarded pizza boxes acted as referees and half time snacks. There was always a giant killing. A small club from non league taking a pro club and beating them. In 1998 I camped out all night in a sleeping bag and a flask of tea to get tickets for Stevenage vs Newcastle. A game that would change football in our small town forever.
As a player I forged a small career in non league and every September would play in the FA Cup Preliminary Rounds. These were massive for non league clubs for the money for winning and the fans paying on the gate. The further you went the bigger the clubs you would play.
HSC Is Cambodia Best Competition…
The Hun Sen Cup has the same feel to it here in Cambodia. Every Khmer player best memories are from playing in this competition. The format of the competition is much like the FA Cup in England.
The preliminary rounds are made up of 20 non professional teams from every province. The country is divided into regions with 4 groups of 5 teams. Each team will play 2 games at home and 2 games away. The top two from each group go through to the knockout stages (Quarter Finals) then the four winners of those games join the big 14 in the later rounds. This years format isn’t finalized due to the uncertainty of how many teams we will actually have left.
Why Is It So Special?
When I coached at Soltilo my coaching team and I would target The Hun Sen Cup every year.
Perhaps the most infamous rule, unfortunately changing this season, is that this competition has is that only Khmer players are allowed to play and for this reason we targeted this competition. On any given day 11v11 Khmers is usually a flip of a coin for a winner. Given that the winners also received a spot on the AFC Cup it was a no brainer that this was competition to target.
For most Khmers this is the special competition that gives younger and non semi professional players a chance to play and also it being only Khmer gives that little extra special feel to winning.
Vishaka are currently on a three year winning streak but it’s Svay Rieng who holds record for most wins with four titles.
Which Is Better?
Both have a special place in my heart and any football fan will tell you that there is something special about a cup weekend and well for Cup Final day there are not many better feelings in football if you come out on top.
I can’t pick between them.
This article is adapted from BPVE, (https://bpve.com/) reported and edited from the great team – Cambodia Sports Review. (https://www.cambodiasportsreview.com/)
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