By Lerpong Amsa-ngiam
Thailand coach Sirisak Yodyadthai still refuses to concede that Vietnam rules Asean, despite Wednesday’s heart-breaking 1-0 King’s Cup defeat to their neighbours in Buriram.
After an intense and volatile clash at Chang Arena, marked by several hot-tempered clashes and five yellow cards, Nguyen Anh Duc broke Thai resistance in injury time with a header that OH Leuven goalkeeper Kawin Thamsatchanan was unable to stop.
Asked if he accepted that Vietnam were now the No 1 football nation, Sirisak maintained that his players had every bit as much talent as those lining up for the AFF Suzuki Cup champions.
“We still had more possession of the ball in the second half but in football victory is decided on the side that scores, which is something Vietnam did,” said Sirisak, who has been in charge of the team since the Asian Cup in January.
“We had so many chances but we were punished in the last minute and had no time to make amends.
“But I already told the players that our mission is not over. We still have the game with India for the third place game on Saturday.”
Thailand’s offensive game became less effective with the absence through injury of two key players, Chanathip Songkrasin and Theerasil Dangda.
Sirisak took the opportunity to test young players, including 16-year-old sensation Suphanat Muenta of Buriram United.
“Our team was affected without Chanathip and Teerasil,” Sirisak declared. “I didn’t pick Teerasil because he was not ready physically so I didn’t want to take a risk with him. However I did get the chance to test young players, who will become a force for Thailand in the future.”
Thailand will play earlier game on Saturday, the third-placed playoff against India, who lost 3-1 to Curacao. That game will kick off at 3.30pm and can be seen on Thai Rath TV 32. The final between Vietnam and Curacao will follow at 7.45pm.
“I have to check the injury updates to find the most appropriate line-up for the game with India but there will be some changes for sure,” Sirisak added.
Thailand were far from impressive in losing 4-1 to India in January’s Asian Cup group stage which prompted the sacking of Milovan Rajevac and the appointment of Sirisak as interim coach.
Sirisak’s playere will aim to restore national pride after that humiliating loss but Sirisak didn’t want to overstate the mission ahead.
“I don’t want to say that we’re looking for a revenge,” he said. “We just need a chance to play them again and see what why we lost on that day. We need to do our best this time.”