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Nov 2, 2010

Laos get a deserved rest

VIENTIANE: With their place secured in the group stage of the AFF Suzuki Cup 2010, Laos coach David Booth has given his players some time off before they begin their preparations for December's group stage. 

The Laotians booked their spot in Group A alongside Thailand, Malaysia and hosts Indonesia after thrashing Timor Leste 6-1 on Tuesday to finish first in the qualifying competition at the National Sports Complex in Vientiane. 

It was the successful culmination of three months of hard work by the team, for which Booth felt that his players were fully deserving of some downtime. 

"We've give them a few days holiday," said the veteran English coach. "They've been working hard for the last three months so they deserve to take a break. 

"We will talk about the group stage more when we get back together for training." 

Laos have now topped the qualifiers in three consecutive editions of the Suzuki Cup. But Booth feels that it will matter little if they do not show a marked improvement in the group stage of the tournament. 

The Laotians have never beaten any of their Group A opponents in the Asean championship. And they have lost all of their games in the last two tournaments in 2007 and 2008, conceding an alarming 36 goals in only six games. 

While Booth is not expecting a miracle turnaround of fortunes for his side in Jakarta, he is hoping for them to show some improvement against the region's bigger teams. 

"We need to play against better teams and see what standard we're coming up to," said the 62-year-old, who took charge of the Laotians earlier this year. 

"We have the talent and we're trying to get them to work harder. Hopefully we can put some good games together there. 

"We want to be competitive in time to come so it's important now not to go backwards." 

Such is the positive attitude in the Laos camp that Booth is confident that he will continue to see improvement by his charges in the group stage. 

"I've been in charge for nearly for nearly three months and what has impressed me the most in that time is not individual players but the team spirit and hard-working attitude. They work the way that we want them to work and they work very hard at trying to do things correctly. 

"Timor Leste may not be the best of teams but to score six goals against any team is very good. We were also very unlucky not to beat Philippines and Cambodia during the qualifiers.


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