AFCAsian Cup

AFC Challenge Cup Team Previews: Laos

Ahead of the AFC Challenge Cup in Maldives, we will be previewing each of the 8 teams that will participate for a chance to reach the 2015 Asian Cup in Australia.  Click on the links below to see each team’s preview, once available:



Tuesday, May 20th (Addu City) – Turkmenistan

Thursday, May 22nd (Addu City) – Philippines

Saturday, May 24th (Addu City) – Afghanistan

You can also check out our Predictions Page to see our projected winners in each match.


Laos Team Page



On March 6th, 2013, Laos was eliminated from AFC Challenge Cup Qualifying by Afghanistan. Two weeks later, when Brunei decided to withdraw from the qualifying competition, the AFC’s hand was forced in trying to re-jigger the 2nd place rankings. As a result of the newly implemented rules, Laos’ disappointing home draw to Mongolia was wiped out. Laos vaulted up the 2nd place rankings and went from eliminated to qualified for the finals. If you polled a group of people and asked whether Laos truly deserves to appear in Maldives, surely the responses would be mixed.

But, what’s done is done. Laos is in the tournament, and they have a tall task ahead of them. It is Laos’ first ever appearance in a continental tournament, so while there will certainly be some nerves, there will be a new excitement the country has never experienced. Laos currently sits at #189 in the WGF rankings, which is the lowest in Group B.


Before the Tournament

Ahead of the AFC Challenge Cup, the team will travel to Thailand for training camp and warm up friendlies. Over the course of a week, they will face 3 clubs from Thailand’s 2nd division. This is not exactly the type of warm up competition that will inspire lots of confidence ahead of their first major tournament, but given a majority of the team plays professionally in either Thailand or Laos, it is a logical destination.

Japanese-born National team head coach Kokichi Kimura had recently been rumored to be a candidate for the Vietnamese position of the same title, but those rumors proved unfounded. Kimura will be the coach of the Laos national team in the AFC Challenge Cup. What the roster will look like is still a bit of a mystery, but you can expect the usual suspects to be on the roster. Laos has a very young team, but they are not without experience. 6 players 21 years of age and under have already had 10 or more caps. 11 players 23 years of age and under have 10 or more caps. Since September 2012, the team has played 18 matches, which has enabled many young players to gain invaluable experience.


The Tournament

While the squad has played a large number of games in the past 2 years, the results have not been there. In the past 12 matches, Laos has only picked up a total of 7 of a possible 36 points. In those 12 matches, they’ve been outscored 30-17 without a single clean sheet.

But things have been a little better recently. Outside of Singapore dropping 5 on them last June, Laos has allowed exactly 1 goal in 5 of their 7 matches in 2013. They also scored in 5 of their 7 matches in 2013, so the matches certainly have been close.

Against their current group, the only ever meeting with Afghanistan was in qualifying last year when Afghanistan tallied late in Vientiane to earn a draw to qualify for the Challenge Cup. Laos also played Turkmenistan only once and lost back in 2012. The rivalry with the Philippines, however, is much longer. These teams have met on 8 previous occasions. Laos has NEVER lost to the Philippines, having won 6 matches and drawing another two. This was quite a surprising discovery.



Coming out of Pot 4 in the draw, Laos clearly has the largest mountain to climb to progress in this group. While historically Laos is 6-3-1 against their trio of opponents, it seems unlikely that will help them. Afghanistan is used to playing away from home and has shown exceptional recent form. Turkmenistan and Philippines were in the same qualifying group, and each looked very strong.

It may be possible for Laos to find their way out of the Group B basement, but we give them only slightly over a 10% chance of getting out of the group stage. Getting any sort of points in the first match against Turkmenistan is a must, and they will probably need to beat the Philippines to have any chance of advancing. This tournament and the young team should provide a great opportunity for the future of Lao football. This team has a lot of potential for improvement in future years, but we aren’t so sure they are ready for the big stage yet.

Projected Group Finish: 4th



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