By Lerpong Amsa-ngiam
The Nation Weekend
The Kingdom put up a splendid performance to stun the hosts, now coached by Italian World Cup-winning captain Fabio Cannavaro, in the opening game of the China Cup in front of 30,000 demoralised Chinese fans at the Guangxi Sports Centre.
It was sweet revenge for the War Elephants following their heart-breaking 2-1 defeat by the Dragons in the last-16 of the Asian Cup in the United Arab Emirates in January.
Despite the team’s improved displays since Sirisak replaced the sacked Milovan Rajevac during the Asian Cup, Football Association of Thailand (FAT) president Somyot Poompanmuang insisted he was still looking for a full-time coach and explained that Sirisak still lacked the necessary qualifications for the job.
“To become a national coach for AFC or Fifa events, you need to have a pro licence, which is something Sirirak is still pursuing,” said Somyot.
The FAT president is not, however, writing off Sirisak’s chances of landing the job on a permanent basis, nor those of assistant coach Choktawee Promrut, who must also first obtain an A licence.
Somyot, who admitted he had so far failed to complete negotiations for a foreign coach to replace Rajevac, said the two Thai men could become leading contenders if they continued to impress.
“I’m giving them an opportunity to prove themselves in this China Cup as they already did a good job at the Asian Cup,” he said. “They just need to have a suitable profile to take this job.”
Sirisak himself believes they learned a lesson while losing to China in January and the new tactics they employed paid off.
“It was a different game from the Asian Cup,” said the 49-year-old acting coach. “The players were more disciplined than last time, when they lost concentration in the second half.
“I told the players that if they remained disciplined, stayed focused and determined for the entire game, it would bring a great result and they did all that.
“China couldn’t find their momentum as they changed several players [in their line-up]. For us, we may have several new players, but they are all familiar with each other. That’s why they tuned up quite fast and got an early goal.”
The talented Chanathip Songkrasin capitalised on Thailand’s first scoring opportunity in the 33rd minute.
“I have to give credit to all my teammates for inspiring me to do my best. Although we’ve had limited time to prepare for this tournament, we all helped each other throughout 90 minutes,” said the 25-year-old Consadole Sapporo winger.
“We were dying for the win. We knew it would be tough – China wanted to reach the final as they are the hosts but we lost to them in the Asian Cup and we didn’t want to lose again. Hard work really paid off.”
Thailand will next play either Uruguay or Uzbekistan at 6.45pm on Mondaya game that will be shown live on Thairath TV (Channel 32).