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Nov 23, 2012

Don’t take Laos lightly, Wan Jamak warns Malaysia

PETALING JAYA: Former national coach Wan Jamak Wan Hassan recalls the bitter lesson taught by ‘spoilers’ Laos 15 years ago.
Then, the national team were only one game away from the semi-finals (1997 Jakarta SEA Games) and their opponent’s were lowly Laos. Who would have expected Malaysia to suffer a humiliating 1-0 defeat?
A year earlier, Wan Jamak had led Malaysia to the final of the inaugural Asean Football Federation (AFF) championship held in Singapore. Malaysia lost to Thailand (1-0) in the final.
Seasoned hands Azman Adnan, Khairul Azman Mohd, Zami Mohd Noor, Rizal Sukiman and Azmi Mohamed were among the established names in that squad.
It was a game Malaysia had expected to win after having cruised past Vietnam (1-0) and the Phillipines (4-0) in the earlier group fixtures. In the end it was a disaster.
For Wan Jamak it was a bitter pill to swallow. He called it quits 24 hours later. The FA of Malaysia (FAM), in a desperate move, disbanded the national team.
What can be expected of Laos, this time? 
It is anyone’s guess. The record shows that minnows Laos have been the whipping boys in the AFF since 1996 having managed only two wins (one was the famous win over Malaysia) in the competition proper – out of the total 27 games played in the group stages.
This time, they are drawn with Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore in Group B. In fact, Laos made it from the qualifying tournament after finishing runner-up behind Myanmar last month.
Wan Jamak said that the standard of the game in the Asean region has improved and added that it would be a mistake to write off any team in the competition.
“We are the defending champions and will be playing at home but that doesn’t mean that we will have it easy,” warned Wan Jamak.


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