Laos Football Federation (LFF) Technical Director Mike Wong tells Kelvin Leong why he wasn’t surprised when they beat Philippines and Singapore.
For decades, any Southeast Asian football team going up against Laos would expect a cricket scoreline but that all changed when Thimsad sent shockwaves at the 2018 ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) U-19 Championships this month.
They failed to make it out of the group stages but neither did traditional giants Vietnam and Singapore. What made it even sweeter was the huge victories against Singapore and the Philippines.
Laos kicked off their campaign with a narrow loss to host nation Indonesia before going down 3-0 and 4-1 to Thailand and Vietnam respectively. They then found their rhythm and stunned Singapore 5-0 before doing the same with Philippines on a 6-0 scoreline.
Golden boy Bounphachan Bounkong also emerged from the group stages as joint topscorer with Myanmar’s Win Naing Tun with six goals.
While the rest of Southeast Asia are shocked by the Laotians’ progress, LFF’s Technical Director Mike Wong explains that the foundation has been laid for a few months already.
“The Laos youngsters are really not bad. They just need to have better football education and more opportunities to play against quality opposition.” Wong told FOX Sports Asia.
“We brought in coach Chusak from Thailand after he came to me in May for the Asian Football Confederation A certification that I conducted in Laos.
“I found him to be a decent coach and the LFF appointed him to take the U-19s upon my request.
“He had five weeks before the AFF U-19 tournament to scout and select his team and he put together a squad that had hunger and drive.
“Some of these boys have played together in previous age groups but as a whole team, this is the first time they are coming together so the results have been positive.”
With Laos seemingly making progress in the region, the same cannot be said of Singapore who suffered one of the heaviest defeats to Laos in history.
Things have taken a turn for the worst when the young cubs returned from Indonesia as revelations came about that Singapore U-19 head coach Robbie Servais only joined the team a day before they set off for the tournament.
He was with the Socceroos in Russia for the World Cup and had left assistant coach Takuya Inoue with team matters.
Philippines will also be reviewing their appalling form at the AFF U-19 Championship having suffered four defeats, conceding 22 goals and scoring five in the process.
Thailand and Indonesia made it to the semifinals but lost to Myanmar and Malaysia respectively. The final will be played on July 14 at the Gelora Delta stadium in Sidoarjo.