Lao Football Team Prepares for 2026 World Cup, Ends First Match With a Draw

Lao National Team players during their first round of qualification with a 1-1 draw against Nepal in their first match on 12 October. (Photo: Lao Football Federation)

The Lao football team is preparing for the 2026 FIFA World Cup.

On 9 October, the Lao Football Federation announced the names of the 23 athletes it selected to participate in the FIFA World Cup 2026 Preliminary Joint Qualification Round 1 Asia Zone.

According to the announcement, the Lao National Team has been in pre-season training since 15 September, with new head coach Kanlaya Sysomvang, who took over from former head coach Arena Gugliermo in early September.

“We have prepared well for this competition, and all the players are ready,” wrote Kanlaya on the Football Federation Facebook page the day before the match against Nepal. “Despite our opponent having a better world ranking, football is played on the field for 90 minutes, where anything is possible. We are confident that these players will do well in tomorrow’s match for the Lao fans.”

The team kicked off their first round of qualification with a 1-1 draw against Nepal in their first match on 12 October. At the game, at the Dasharath Stadium in Kathmandu, Nepal, the Lao team took the lead in the 33rd minute with a goal from the striker and captain, Bounphachanh Bounkong. Nepal managed to equalize the score only a few minutes later.

When The Laotian Times spoke with Lao team manager Nitar Thatsanyphone about the match, he admitted that the result was unsatisfactory for the Lao team, as they had hoped to start their World Cup qualification with a win. 

“Of course, we want to win every game we play, especially the first match of the tournament,” said Nitar. “However, considering that this was an away match, a draw is not a [big] disappointment.”

Nitar further encouraged the national team to win the next match to qualify for the second round.

“We need to win the second match with Nepal to qualify for the next round,” said Nitar. “Playing in our home in front of the fans is an advantage, and we really hope to get the victory.”

Nitar revealed that the Lao football team is currently on the way back home to prepare for the second match against Nepal that is going to take place on 17 October at 7:00 p.m. at the National Stadium in Vientiane Capital.

If the Lao national team scores a victory on 17 October, it will be placed in Group H of the second qualifying round, along with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and the winner of the match between Yemen and Sri Lanka.

The first qualification round of the 2026 FIFA World Cup features 20 teams, divided into 10 groups of two teams.