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Dec 3, 2010


David Booth is not an unfamiliar face in Asian football as he has been plying his trade since the mid 90's. He led Brunei to the Malaysia Cup crown in 1999 before heading to Myanmar. He also coached clubs like Club Valencia from Maldives, Mumbai FC and Mahindra United in India.
In 2006, he had a one year spell in Thailand, leading BEC-Tero to third in the Thai Premier League - just three points behind eventual champions Bangkok University. His biggest achievements in Asia came with the win of the Federation and Super Cup in 2003 with Mahindra United. David, you had previously coached in Thailand. In 2006 you were in charge of BEC-Tero for one season and led them to third place - just three points behind the eventual champions Bangkok University. How did you feel?
Booth: BEC-Tero players were good, we could have won the league except for interference from inside the club, at a crucial stage of the season and that is why I left. Teeratep Winothai was one of your strikers that year. He just came back from Everton in England and was then just 21 years of age. What did you think of him? Did you have a high expectation of him?
Booth:Teeratep was a good lad, worked hard and was always striving to get better. I always wondered how far he would go. He was very popular off field and that maybe distracted him a little. I guess you are not alone with that opinion. The 2006 Thai Premier League season also marked the first season for Chonburi FC in Thailand’s highest tier of football. What was your impression of Chonburi? One year later they become the first Thai champions from outside Bangkok.
Booth: I remembered Chonburi, as we were losing at home 1-0 and that was when the interference from within started . With 30 minutes still to play Chonburi were a solid unit and no surprise to see them move forward. After your spell in Thailand you went off to paradise. You became the head coach of Club Valencia in Maldives. However you left the club after just six months at the helm. I think to coach in Maldives is every man’s dream.
Booth: Maybe it is every man’s dream job but a job is a job to do wherever it is. It did not last long as the players went on strike against the team manager saying he did not release payments. Meanwhile, I was waiting the players for training in pouring rain. I decided I did not wish to remain in circumstances like this where the players may consider striking against me if they did not like things. Before you took charge of Laos, you were the head coach of Mahindra United for the second time in your career. You singed a three-year deal in 2009. Why did it suddenly came to such an abrupt end?
Booth: The Mahindra Company decided to stop competitive football to concentrate on grass roots. Unfortunately, we had just moved to the top of the Indian league table when they released this news. From that moment players were all over India joining new clubs. What a mess the company caused. If they had waited and we had won the league maybe they would have had to reconsider so they decided to close before finding out. In the end, a lot of hard work were done for nothing. The AFF Suzuki Cup is just round the corner and now you are in charge of the Laos national team. How is your preparation coming along? What is the actual state of affairs in the team and what will happen in the weeks before kick-off?
Booth: We did well in the qualifiers but our preparation has to step up a few notch as the oppositions in the final round are stronger. We will take a period of preparation in Thailand before moving to the actual competition venue. This is a good challenge to see how we can cope with pressure from higher class oppositions. You have Lamnao Singto in your squad. He was playing in Thailand for a few years but couldn't make his breakthrough. How do you rate him and do you think he can find his way back to playing in Thailand?
Booth: Hopefully. He is well loved in Laos but as a professional, he has to concentrate on going to the next stage. Only then maybe he can return to Thailand or elsewhere. Under the reign of your predecessor Alfred Riedl - now coaching Indonesia - the U23 finished third at the SEA Games in 2009. How many players from that squad will see action during the upcoming AFF Cup?
Booth: Maybe eight or nine. I had to mould a new team within three months, so to win the qualifiers was a major victory for a team where a good number have not played at this level before. Is there any tactical scheme you prefer with Laos? If yes, which one?
Booth: Any tactical scheme? Not to concede goals. Who do you predict to come up first and second in your group?
Booth: Not easy to predict, anything can happen. If I can choose the winner maybe it's better I do the UK lottery. Who do you pick as favourites to win the title and how do you think Laos will fare?
Booth: The favourites must be Indonesia as they are playing at home although there’s little to choose between the top teams. Our position will depend upon our players’ ability to play away from Laos. Unlike the SEA Games, support for our team will be minimal. From your point of view, who would become the player to watch during the AFF Cup?
Booth: Maybe a player from Indonesia as they are the home team. Which league would you rate as the strongest and the best in ASEAN?
Booth: The V-league although the Thai Premier League is now moving in the right direction since they now have the right backing. All leagues in ASEAN have foreign players regulations. Malaysia have not allowed foreign players for the past two years. So what is the best policy in your opinion?
Booth: I think a maximum of three is the best as this will force the clubs to develop and recruit more local players instead of taking the easy way which is to have five or six foreign players per team. This will also make the clubs more insistence on the quality of foreign players they hire. You've been around in Asia for such a long time. Do you still prefer a home brewed English beer to one from Asia?
Booth: I am a sportsman - alcohol and football do not mix well.



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