The head coach of the Laos women’s football team believes it will be a pretty close contest between Bangladesh and Laos when the two teams face off in a double-legged first round of the joint qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup and the 2023 Asian Cup.
Bangladesh, ranked 188th in FIFA, will play away to Laos, ranked 184th, on June 6 before hosting the Southeast Asian nation at home on June 11 to decide which team will go through to the group stages of the qualifying campaign.
Vongmisay Soubouakham, the 31-year-old coach of the women’s team of Laos currently in Dhaka for the Bangamata U-19 International Women’s Gold Cup, has a fair bit of inside information regarding the Laos men’s teams and the Laos Football Federation.
“I think the two teams [Bangladesh and Laos] are very close. Last year, they played twice, one was a draw and the other was a win for Bangladesh I believe. So it is difficult to predict who would go through,” Vongmisay told The Daily Star after a pre-tournament press meet at a hotel in Dhaka on Sunday.
As a footballer, Vongmisay played for Laos in the under-15 and under-17 levels. He later turned to professional coaching to guide the Laos under-23 men’s team before taking charge of the women’s team in 2016. So he knows the men’s team pretty well and is well aware of the plans of the federation regarding the upcoming qualifying fixtures against Bangladesh.
“I think we might play a friendly match against Sri Lanka in the build-up to the Bangladesh matches. The team might also play a few matches against club sides in Thailand,” said the Laos women’s team coach, adding that seven of the current national team players play in Thai leagues while the rest play in their domestic circuit.
The 31-year-old coach also informed that Laos have fielded a very young national team in recent times, with an eye on the future, which is true for Bangladesh too, and hence very high-paced and close-fought encounters are expected on June 6 and June 11.
Bangladesh and Laos met three times in the past, with the first meeting ending in a win for Laos during the 2003 Asian Cup in Hong Kong. However, the men in red and green managed to hold Laos to a 2-2 draw in a FIFA friendly in Vientiane in March last year before beating the Southeast Asians 1-0 on home soil during the Bangabandhu Gold Cup in October last year.