Friday, August 28, 2015


ASEAN Vet Darby Looks Forward To WCQs

When it comes to South East Asian football, coach Steve Darby has forgotten more than most have ever known. He has been there and done that in Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and most recently Laos where he is busy, as I type this, plotting South Korea's downfall in their World Cup Qualifier next week.

Definitely a pint glass half full kind of guy, Darby feels an exciting end to the little known domestic season can only benefit the players as they dig out their passports ahead of the next step of their careers. 

'It's coming to an exciting end with ... Lan Xang, SHB and Laos Toyota pulling away and the title may go to the head to head rule,' enthused the affable coach. He also pointed to an improved atmosphere at games, saying 'Lan Xang have made their new stadium very fan friendly and they are getting full houses.'

Traditionally of course there has been little excitement with Laos for their own league and attendances have been on the small side so for players to get used to faces on the terraces has to be a massive boost to their confidence as well as go some way towards preparing them for more hostile arenas. Some way being the operative words!

With an eye to the future, Darby has included five players from the SEA Games squad which defeated Timor Leste and Brunei in Singapore earlier in the year but admits only one is likely to stretch his legs on the pitch.

After one point from their two opening qualifiers, a 2-2 draw at home to neighbouring Myanmar following a 2-0 loss at home to Lebanon, Darby is going for experience over youth. 'I brought back senior players for these games (South Korea and Kuwait a few days later) as you need tough men with experience to play at this level. I don't care how old players's all about ability.'

Among the players earning recalls are two players who had been suspended for their involvement in a major incident a few years back plus a couple of others who had been put out to pasture despite being in their late 20s! And South East Asia's reputation for non football matters also played its part when Darby sat down to select his squad; 'we have two players still suspended for match manipulation'.

 '(29 year old Ayutthaya striker)Khampeng is still a quality player (and) Khouanta Sivongthong (from the SEA Games squad) has a great future ... but the reality is we are based on team work. It 's too late as national coach to work on fitness or technique so we work on tactics, set pieces and the mentality of the players.'

Games against South Korea and Kuwait are a meaty enough double header for most Asian nations, even more so for a nation starved of resources such as Laos. However a friendly has been pencilled in against Cambodia and while the coach admits they may not be the most glamourous opposition in world football there are at least points available which could improve the national team's rankings.

In the South Korean ranks is a player who has left the Bundesliga to join English Premier League side Tottenham while Kuwait have two sides with one foot each in the AFC Cup semi finals following convincing wins midweek. Against that pedigree Laos are most definitely small time but the beauty of football is David can sometimes take on Goliath and leave a mark and Steve Darby will be hoping his players can at least leaving the big name stars of South Korean and Kuwait knowing they have at least been in a game.

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?