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I never had a doubt: Booth

VIENTIANE: Despite watching his side fall behind early on Tuesday, Laos coach David Booth said that he never lost faith that his players would get the goals that they needed against Timor Leste to qualify for the group stage of the AFF Suzuki Cup 2010.

Chiquito fired the Timorese into a surprise ninth minute lead at the National Sports Complex in Vientiane but goals by Kovanh Namthavixay and Soukhaphone Vongchiengkham turned the match in the home side's favour by the 17th minute mark.

Second-half goals by Lamnao Singto, Konekham Inthammavong, Kanlaya Sysomvang and Ketsada Souksavanh gave the Laotians a 6-1 win that put them at the top of the qualifying group, ahead of Philippines on goals scored.

The result was a relief for Booth, whose side had needed to win by at least a three-goal margin after Philippines and Cambodia had drawn 0-0 earlier on Tuesday.

"I am quite pleased because the result of the Cambodia – Philippines game made us sweat a bit," said the veteran English coach.

"Although we conceded early on, I was very pleased with the way that we started the game. Conceding the goal was a shock but I would rather fall behind in the first few minutes than in the last few minutes.

"It was a bit frustrating trying to break them down but I had the feeling at about the 35-minute mark that I just want to get to half-time so that we could reorganise ourselves.

"It helped that we got the penalty two minutes into the second half and we just went from there."

Having only taken charge of the Laotian side three months ago, Booth was delighted at what the result meant for the players and their supporters.

"There was a lot of pressure for my team because a lot of supporters came here to see Laos qualify.

"I am very happy with their performance tonight because they all worked hard and they deserve a short holiday before we start our preparations for the next stage."

Timor Leste ended a dismal campaign with three straight defeats but coach Pedro Correia de Almeida was keen to accentuate the positives.

"The three matches we played here were better than I expected. At least we got some goals," he said.

"We did not have as much time for preparation this time around so our performance in this qualifying competition was not as good as it was two years ago."