10 Group stage appearances
Thim Xad (The National Team)
Valakone Phomphakdy (Laos)
Since the qualifying round was introduced in 2006, the Laotians have never failed to get past that stage, successfully negotiating it on five occasions.
They had a couple of close shaves, going through on goal difference in 2010 and needing a surprise defeat by Timor Leste to Brunei in 2012 to advance. However, they qualified with a game to spare two years ago after winning their first three matches against Cambodia, Brunei and Timor Leste.
However for all their success in qualification, the Laotians have been unable to make an impact during the group stage of the last five tournaments, failing to manage a win and finishing bottom of their section in every edition.
They have gone close to ending that poor run, leading 2-1 against Thailand in 2010 and Indonesia in 2012 before conceding last-minute equalisers which denied them famous wins. But their 2014 campaign was disappointing as they lost all three games, 4-1 to the Philippines, 3-0 to Vietnam and 5-1 to Indonesia.
While Laos will fancy their chances of getting past the qualifiers once again this year, Valakone Phomphakdy’s side will need to improve on their poor recent record in international matches. In the 14 games they have played since the last AFF Suzuki Cup, they have won only once, a 2-1 friendly victory over Cambodia last August, and lost nine matches including six of seven during the FIFA World Cup qualifiers and a 6-1 loss to India in an AFC Asian Cup qualifier in June.
Having scored three goals in the qualifiers and two in the group stage in the 2014 tournament, much will be expected again of striker, captain and talisman Khampheng Sayavutthi if Laos are to top the qualifiers in Cambodia and qualify once again for the main draw of the AFF Suzuki Cup.