In a thrilling showdown, Phnom Penh Crown secured a remarkable victory against their Singaporean opponents, the Tampines Rovers, triumphing 3-2 in the knockout stage of the Singaporean Premier League. The victory sent shockwaves throughout football enthusiasts around the region.

The significance of the win was not lost on Ukrainian coach Oleg Starynskyi, who expressed his elation over the win against the Rovers. The victory propelled the club into the group stage of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup, marking a successful return after their absence in 2022.

“This success is a source of immense joy for the Cambodian people. It underscores our reputation as a Cambodian team, and highlights our progress as we secure a place in the next pivotal round of the tournament,“ Starynskyi said.

Starynskyi, who previously guided the Crown to consecutive Cambodian league titles in 2021 and 2022, expressed concern, however, noting that only one Cambodian team entered the AFC Cup. He underscored the need for broader representation.

“We are honoured to foster football in Cambodia. Its potential is immense, and we envision a stronger football landscape with multiple Cambodian teams in the knockout stage. Today’s victory against a formidable ASEAN team attests to our capabilities,” he said.

In the 2022 AFC Cup, Cambodia was represented by two teams: reigning champions Phnom Penh Crown and the Hun Sen Cup winners, represented by Visakha FC. While the Crown advanced to the group stage, Visakha conceded in the play-offs. Due to the

withdrawal of Laos’ Young Elephants, Visakha was granted a spot in the group stage.

The dynamics shifted for the 2023 AFC Cup. Cambodian teams were required to navigate the knockout stage, proceed to the play-offs, and then secure a place in the group stage. This decision emerged from the previous year, where both the Crown and Visakha faced elimination in the group stage.

Visakha secured two victories, one defeat and six points, claiming second place in Group G while the Crown clinched third place in Group I, tallying one win and two losses.

This year witnessed the Crown’s victory over the Young Elephants, securing a convincing 3-0 win in the preliminary stage. The subsequent playoff clash on August 23 at Singapore’s Jalan Besar Stadium was marked by intense competition as the host team relentlessly launched a series of attacks.

Montenegro striker Boris Kopitovic’s goals in the 10th and 26th minutes placed the Crown under considerable pressure. However, Japanese striker Yudai Ogawa managed to find the net in the 44th minute, providing hope for a Crown win against the Rovers.

In the end, the team once again secured a place in the group stage of the AFC Cup, marking another exciting chapter in their journey.