YANGON (14 Oct 2012) – Khawp Jai Deu. The Laos national team must have repeated it a million times to their counterparts from Brunei after dramatically making it through to the AFF Suzuki Cup Final Round last night.
The phrase, which means “thank you very much” in the Laos language, must have also been mentioned by hundreds of thousands of Laos football fans to Brunei since the match.
Yesterday, before the start of the last two qualifying matches, Laos were in with a slim chance of grabbing the second slot, but it was really quite a long shot. There were two key results that were required; Laos had to draw or beat Myanmar in the first game, and then hope for Brunei to surprise Timor Leste in the next game.
Timor Leste midfielder Diogo Rangel was inconsolable after the loss to Brunei last night
The Laos team celebrate at the stands following their entry into the final round of the AFF Suzuki Cup after watching Brunei beat Timor Leste 2-1
Laos did their part by surprisingly holding Myanmar but little did anyone expect Brunei to pull the rug from under Timor’s feet. Timor only needed one point to advance to the Final Round for the first time but although it appeared to be a walk in the park, they were not able to deliver.
“I want to thank Brunei for playing a fantastic game. Their players put up a sensational performance and we would like to thank them for creating the chance for us to advance,” said Xaubandith Rasphone, the general secretary of the Laos Football Federation (LFF).
“Our team did not have a lot of time to prepare for this qualifier. We only trained for about a month and a half before coming here. We had also just hired a new coach (Kokichi Kimura from Japan), so we are obviously quite happy to make the final round.”
For finishing as the second placed qualifier here, Laos will be placed in Group B which will be based in Kuala Lumpur. Laos will have defending champions Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia for company.
Qualifying Round champions Myanmar will join Group A and will have to battle the likes of hosts Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines in Bangkok.
“Now that we have made the next round, we will have to prepare better for what will be an even tougher challenge,” added Xaybandith.