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Exclusive: Beware! – Steve Darby and Laos vow to attack Malaysia

Believe it or not, it’s been a month since that shambolic 10-0 defeat and the shenanigans that followed in the aftermath of it. Dollah Salleh is now gone, and the process of finding a permanent replacement for him, is already underway.

But with a crucial World Cup qualifier against Timor Leste coming up, interim head coach Datuk Ong Kim Swee and his men will be facing Laos this Thursday, in what should be a competitive match. On the sidelines, they’ll be seeing a familiar face in the form of Laos’ head coach, Steve Darby.

The experienced tactician is widely recognized in Malaysia, having coached here in three separate stints, with the most recent one being his tenure with Kelantan FA in 2014. And while he does have a soft spot for the country, he has no intentions of going easy on them this weekend.

Photo Credit: Goal
Photo Credit: Goal

“I have a soft spot for Malaysia, having coached there in seven different seasons, with three different teams. Though I would have loved to have the current Johor budget, when I was with them in 1998!,” he told FourthOfficial.com

“But against Malaysia, we will be going all out on attack. FIFA ranking points will be at stake and it would be a terrific preparation for our ‘World Cup Final’ against Myanmar. Our aim at all levels of national teams is to close the gap with the rest of Southeast Asia.

“We are completely fine with defending against big teams. If you’re naive enough to attack them, you could end up with major defeats. But when we play against teams that we think we can beat, we are completely fine with adapting to employ a more attacking strategy,” he added.

Photo Credit: sport360.com
Photo Credit: sport360.com

Malaysia will be equally determined to seal victory and secure valuable FIFA ranking points, having dropped to their worst ever ranking of 171 recently. But they’ll be up against a Laos side that has looked far more compact under the guidance of Steve Darby.

Thim Xhad’s four defeats in 2015 have all come against stronger opponents in the form of Afghanistan, Lebanon, Kuwait and even South Korea. With the exception of their 8-0 defeat to South Korea, their other losses have all had narrow score lines.

More impressively though, Steve’s men have not lost to a Southeast Asian side this year, drawing against Cambodia and Myanmar, before beating Cambodia in their second friendly match recently.

“It definitely seems to be working well. As a national coach, it’s too late to work on technique and fitness, so I concentrate on the tactical side of things as well as the team shape.

Photo Credit: AP
Photo Credit: AP

“We are trying to develop a ‘Laos Style’ of playing football, where there is pride and ambition in playing for the country. The fans have been brilliant as well, and they’ve been giving the players so much of confidence on the pitch.

“But we could always do with a few thousand Malaysian ultras at our games!,” he enthused.

The match between Malaysia and Laos will take place at the Thai Army Sports Stadium on the 8th of October, before both sides head off for their respective World Cup Qualifying ties.

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