Cambodia splash cash in bid to climb rankings

PHNOM PENH - Cambodia are fleeing their swampy, flood-plain national training centre and will splash out on a high-tech football facility.

The Southeast Asian strugglers will fork out $5 million on new facilities to raise the standard of football in the impoverished country and catch up with their regional neighbours after decades of mediocrity.

"If we want to compete with other countries in the region, we need to develop players and that requires us to have better training fields," Ouk Sethycheat, secretary-general of the Football Federation of Cambodia, told Reuters on Thursday.

The new centre in Takeo, about 40 km outside Phnom Penh, will have a match stadium, three training surfaces, medical facilities, accommodation for players and a reservoir to ensure a water supply for irrigating the fields.

An initial investment of $1.2 million will be made, Ouk Sethycheat said, provided by local companies and football's world governing body FIFA, as well as money from the sale of the old training facility, which was heavily waterlogged after rains.

Cambodia have never won a soccer tournament and are ranked 171st among FIFA's 208 member countries.