|Renowned football expert Mike Wong has urged Southeast Asian countries to develop a long term strategic plan if they are to realise ambitions of qualifying the World Cup.— File Photo
by Tien Thanh
HA NOI (VNS) — Renowned football expert Mike Wong has urged Southeast Asian countries to develop a long term strategic plan if they are to realise ambitions of qualifying the World Cup.
Wong, who is currently in Viet Nam to host an A-level session for Vietnamese coaches until October 6, spoke with Viet Nam News yesterday.
"Southeast Asian countries need to have a five to ten year strategy to develop football and create stronger youth participation in the sport. They need to build teams that can compete with the big boys in Asia and then we can start to think about the World Cup," the Singaporean said.
Southeast Asia has long stood on the periphery of world football and often sidelined for its inability to compete for a place on the world's biggest football stage. At present, a Southeast Asian nation is yet to qualify for the global football event.
However, as an experienced football expert, Wong said he has seen the positive progress regional football has made in recent years.
"The quality of Southeast Asian football in general and youth football in particular has been better," said Wong.
Wong has been an integral part of the Asian Football Confederation's efforts to regenerate the nation's talent in the sport; creating a pool of qualified coaches to mentor young footballers with potential to compete in regional football.
"The quality of coaches, especially those training youth teams, needs to be improved to be able to challenge the big teams in Asian like Japan, South Korea or Iran."
"Educating coaches is a must for all countries, especially for Southeast Asian countries. That way, we can improve the standard of coaching. " he said.
"We are making strides towards the bigger boys in Asia. But I still feel we have a long way to go before we talk about the World Cup," the AFC instructor said, adding that one Southeast Asian club had reached the quarterfinals of the AFC Champions League this year.
This is a good sign that football is improving in the region, he said. — VNS