AFC Solidarity Cup SF: Nepal v Laos preview

Photo: Lagardère Sports

Kuching: Valakone Phomphakdy insists there is no pressure on his Laos team ahead of their AFC Solidarity Cup Malaysia 2016 semi-final meeting with Nepal at Negeri Stadium on Saturday evening.

Laos defeated Mongolia 3-0 on Wednesday evening to book their berth in the last four of the competition and the two teams will face off against one another for the second time this year.

Nepal were held to a 1-1 draw by the Laotians in Vientiane in a friendly in late May and Valakone (pictured, left) will be taking a similar approach on Saturday despite the change in circumstances.

“We drew last time, but it was only a friendly match,” said the Laos coach. “It will be like a friendly match because there’s no pressure on us. We are using new players for the future and I think we will try to play well.

“Of course we’re serious about the game. We respect Nepal and we know how they play as well.

“After we played together, I think the Nepal team have gone back and prepared and have the experience of playing with our team. They are better than before, for sure.

“But we will try to play with them, but we only have these players. Also, it’s not our home field so we will try to play as well as we can.”

Nepal advanced to the semi-finals as winners of Group A and have had a day’s extra rest compared to Laos, but coach Koji Gyotoku (pictured, right) insists his players are still feeling the effects of the tournament’s schedule.

“We have a chance to win, of course. The players are tired but we want to win,” said the Japanese coach.

“I watched the game (between Laos and Mongolia) and we had a match against Laos in May and a lot of the players have changed, but I know the Laos team well and their tactics are not bad, they’re good. Now they’re strong, but we have a chance.

“They use the wide spaces well and some of their players have changed, but all of the players have skill. I know in the next match how we need to play in these conditions. Some of the players are tired, but it’s the same for Laos. They are in the same position.”