By Lerpong Amsa-ngiam
After edging through their group to reach the knockout stages of the tournament for the first time in 47 years, Sirisak will be without two key defenders, who are suspended, while several others are on the treatment table ahead of an already-tough assignment against the losers of the overnight game between China and South Korea.
Midfielder Sanrawat Dechmitr has returned to Bangkok for medical tests on his back and will not be available, while midfielder Mika Chunonsee is still nursing the cut above his left eye that he suffered during Sunday’s game with the United Arab Emirates.
Moreover, Adisorn Promrak and Suphan Thongsong are definite non-starters for Sunday’s game after picking up their second yellow cards of the tournament against the UAE.
However, Sirisak and his assistant Choketawee Promrut have already discussed how to reshuffle the team.
“It’s unfortunate that some players have injuries, especially Sanrawat, whose case is more serious than others,” said Sirasak, who’s had a fine start to his stint in charge after the sacking of Milovan Rajevac last Monday.
“He has to be sent back to Thailand for a thorough check-up but the remaining players can fill his spot.”
It is likely that midfielder Tanaboon Kesarat will slot into central defence.
“I’ve already told him to be prepared to move positions but we still have several days to get things into place,” said assistant coach and former international Choketawee. “We have to work harder but we are not worried.”
On the upside another defender, Pansa Hemviboon, will be available for selection after being banned from the game against UAE.
He also believes the coaching team will figure out how to find the best solution to their selection problems.
“I’m so glad to able to play again. Having two banned players, it will definitely affect us,” said the 27-year-old from Chanthaburi, who has 17 caps.
“I believe everybody can replace one another. To come this far, we have gone through a tough period from the loss to India in the opening game, so this won’t hold us back. We want to continue in this tournament,” said Pansa, who called the team’s resurgence at the Asian Cup the highlight of his career.
Sunday’s game will kick off at 8pm (Thailand time) and will be shown live on Channel 7 and Fox Sports HD.
Late winner puts Australia through
Tom Rogic’s injury-time thunderbolt settled an Asian Cup thriller as defending champions Australia beat Syria 3-2 to reach the last 16 and knock out their war-torn rivals on Tuesday.
The result meant the holders finished second in Group B behind Jordan, whose simultaneous 0-0 draw with Palestine gave the Palestinians hope of qualifying as one of the best third-placed teams.
Syria, vocally backed by thousands of their fans in Al Ain, twice fought back from a goal behind before Rogic slammed home the winner in the third minute of injury time.
Injury-hit Australia, with only six outfield players on the bench, needed just a draw to go through and they got there.
“It was a helter-skelter game at times,” said Socceroos coach Graham Arnold.
“On another night we could’ve scored more goals but it was a great learning process for our young players. It was a good performance just in terms of the grit and determination.”