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Oct 26, 2010

LAOS EMERGE CHAMPS AND CLAIM FINAL ROUND BERTH WITH PHILIPPINES

LAOS EMERGE CHAMPS AND CLAIM FINAL ROUND BERTH WITH PHILIPPINES 
 
VIENTIANE (26 Oct 2010) – Hosts Laos emerged the champions of the AFF Suzuki Cup 2010 qualifying rounds for the second time in succession after sensationally beating Timor Leste 6-1 at the National Sports Complex tonight. Philippines, who finished second on an inferior goal difference, have claimed the other slot after earlier sharing points with Cambodia in an earlier tie.

Laos will join a difficult Group A where they will have Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand for company while the Philippines will battle it out with defending champions Vietnam, Singapore and Myanmar in Group B.

Cambodia, second in the previous qualifying tournament two years ago, finished third with five points, similar to Laos and the Philippines, but lost out on an inferior goal difference.

For Laos the victory was sweet as they came from behind to secure a sensational victory. Down by an early goal, Laos battled back to score six goals to dispose of Timor Leste who completed the tournament without any points.

“We expected to win this game but it is not easy knowing that we have to win by a certain number of goals to take the Cup,” said David Booth, the chief coach of Laos.

“For me, it does not matter which group we are in for the final round – they are all hard teams to play against.”

Bottom-placed Timor Leste stunned the hosts just nine minutes into the game. The goal was a severe blow for Laos who knew they needed at least three goals in order to qualify for the final rounds.

Laos, to their credit, got their act together very quickly and were back on level terms just two minutes later thanks to a fine strike from Kovanh Namthaxivay. Laos continued to pile the pressure and surged ahead in the 17th minute, this time after Soukaphone Vongchiengkham’s header whizzed past the on-rushing Timor keeper.

Laos were unfortunate not to pick up at least two more goals by the end of the first half. Kovanh rocked the crossbar in the 28th minute while Soukaphone’s shot was just inches from the target. Timor stole away in the dying minutes when Chiquitto Do Carmo split the defence but his shot landed in the arms of the keeper.

Just before the hour mark, Laos had added two more goals through Lamnao Singto and Konekham Inthammavong in the 47th and 59th minutes. The importance of the fourth goal was the fact that Laos had done enough to qualify as the second placed team.

This pushed Cambodia down into third spot and effectively out of the finals.

Anyone who thought Laos would be satisfied as the second placed team were wrong as they went on to score two more goals through Kanyala Sysomvang and Ketsada Souksavanh for a magnificent 6-1 win.

This meant Laos had swept past the Philippines on better goal difference. Laos had scored eight goals while Philippines had scored seven. The top three, Laos, Philippines and Cambodia all have five points each.

“We had minimum preparation but we still managed to match the other teams in certain aspects although we lost out physically. We would have been better if we had more time to prepare,” added Eduardo Parreira, the assistant coach of Timor Leste.

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