Laos have recently crashed out of the Suzuki Cup 2012, but have won praises for their attacking flair throughout the tournament, holding Indonesia 2-2 and giving Singapore a scare by holding a 2-goal advantage before capitulating 4-3 to the Lions.
Many have put it down to Laos head coach Kokichi Kimura for the transformation in Laos' football. Goal.com speaks to Kokichi Kimura about how he landed in the head coaching role, and what he has learnt about Laos football so far.
Goal.com: How did you become coach of the Laos national team?
Kimura: Previously, Japan Football Association (JFA) had an agreement with Laos Football Federation [LFF] to develop their local football. So, when LFF was looking for a national coach, they contacted JFA and then the Japanese football governing body asked me, 'Do you want to train the Laos national team?' I answered them, 'Yes, I want to'. So after that, they sent me there.
Goal.com: What do you think about Laos’ local footballers? Have you ever known about them before?
Kimura: This was the first time I saw and met Laos players. Basically they have a good standard of football although it's still far behind the level of other Asian teams like Japan, my native country.
There was a unique thing when I trained them the first time after I was appointed to be Laos coach; they seemed to lack discipline if we compare them with Japanese players. When I instructed them to pass the ball, they preferred to shoot. The same things also happened vice versa.
But, as time went by, I asked them to change that habit and more to comply with my instructions as their coach. I think now they seem to understand what I want.
Goal.com: About life in Laos?
Kimura: I don't have any problems with the lifestyle in Laos. I could adapt very well to their food and culture. Initially, there were some problems when the first time I arrived in Vientiane, but I can cope with it and it does not hinder my work anymore.