By LERPONG AMSA-NGIAM
INTERIM manager Sirisak Yodyadthai is targeting at least a draw from tonight’s last group A game of the Asian Cup despite being without the rock of his defence, Pansa Hemviboon.
The War Elephants, with three points after a defeat to India and a win over Bahrain, must at take at least a point from hosts United Arab Emirates to give themselves a chance of qualifying for the knockout round. The top two from each group plus the four best third-placed teams will reach the round of 16.
However, Thailand will take their last throw of the dice at Hazza bin Zayed Stadium in Al Ain without centre-back Pansa, who is suspended after receiving two yellow cards from previous games. The caretaker manager insists the remaining defenders are tough enough to fill the gap, though.
“Without Pansa, there will be just a tiny problem. But we have replacements for every position. The player who takes his place will have equal ability,” said the 49-year-old Thai, who was appointed to take over after the shock sacking of Milovan Rajevac last Monday.
UAE go into the match top of the group with four points, followed by India with three points, ahead of Thailand only on goal difference. Thailand, though, have a poor head-to-head record against tonight’s opponents, who have won seven of their previous clashes, with three draws and two defeats.
The Middle East team has never lost to Thailand on home soil.
“UAE are fast going forward but there is nothing to worry about. I have discussed a game plan with [assistant coach] Choketawee [Promrut]. The target is to secure at least a point from the game,” said Sirisak.
The acting manager insists spirits are still high among the players, who are hoping to extend their time in the Middle East beyond tonight’s clash.
“The players are hungry to compete and still hoping they will reach the next stage. As for myself, I’ve already been through the big pressure and will focus only on the game with UAE,” he said.
The UAE-Thailand match kicks off at 11pm Thailand time and will be broadcast live on Channel 7 and Fox Sports HD. India and Bahrain play at the same time.