| PHNOM PENH (26 Oct 2008) – Now that the qualification round is over and where Laos and Cambodia have proven themselves worthy, they have to start looking at upping the ante for the main event of the AFF Suzuki Cup 2008 in December.
But they will have little time to make drastic improvisation where the focus now must surely be on how to tweak on their overall performance to face up to the big boys in the region.
Following their qualification yesterday Laos, by virtue of being the winner, will be placed in Group B which is based in Bangkok, Thailand.
And apart from having to play against the runners-up of the last championship Thailand, the young Laotian side will also be up against Malaysia and Vietnam.
Cambodia will not have it any easier either where being in Group A meant that they will take on hosts Indonesia in Jakarta and defending champions Singapore and Myanmar.
“I believe that we have the team which can play well together as a unit,” said Veleriy Vdovin, the head coach for Laos.
“Now we have to make sure that they improve on their finishing and shooting as from this qualifiers, we were wasting far too many chances and we cannot afford to do that in the main tournament.”
While Laos struggle with the frontline, it will be defence which will be of concern to Cambodia.
They have given away valuable goals from headers and this is one area which has been a bane for the Cambodians throughout their qualifying campaign.
“Obviously, we could have defended better although on hindsight, I believe that the players we have now are the best set that we have at the moment,” said Prak Sovannara, the head coach for Cambodia.
“We have a month to work with and we hope that we will come up with some refinements.”
Whatever the misgiving at the start of the inception of a qualifying tournament prior to the main event of the AFF championship some years back, this year’s meet has certainly proven all the detractors wrong.
The competition was very close this time round and there were no stragglers where it took the final day of the meet to decide the two winners.
All the teams came very well prepared and the absence of high scores proved that the qualifier is an essential element for the future of the championship.
As far as the organization of the tournament was concerned, Cambodia have proven to be able to hosts major championships under the guidance of the Football Federation of Cambodia (FFC).
The Local Organising Committee have done a tremendous job in making sure that they meet with all marketing and technical requirements.
Although the one factor is that perhaps they should look into improving the facilities at the National Olympic Stadium.
The matches were well attended with an average of 10,000 fans per match day but it would have been a lot better had it been played at night under the glare of floodlights.
1. LAOS 9pts (+2)
2. CAMBODIA 7pts (+1)
3. PHILIPPINES 7pts (+1)
4. BRUNEI 4pts (-1)
5. TIMOR LESTE 1pt (-5)