War Elephants confident of 2nd round berth – Bangkok Post
Thailand caretaker coach Sirisak Yodyardthai says his War Elephants are capable of getting a result from their last first-round game to stake a claim for a place in the knockout stage of the 2019 Asian Cup.
Thailand interim coach Sirisak Yodyardthai gestures during the match against Bahrain. (AP photo)
The Thais, who shot back into contention for a second-round spot from Group A after a 1-0 victory over Bahrain on Thursday, face hosts the United Arab Emirates on Monday.
The match will take place at Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium in Al Ain at 11pm (Thai time) with India taking on Bahrain at the same time in Sharjah.
The top two teams in each of the six groups and four best third-placed teams will advance to the knockout stage.
The War Elephants, who lost 4-1 to India in their opening game, have three points from two matches and are third in Group A behind the UAE (four points) and India (three). Bahrain have one point from their 1-1 draw with the UAE.
Sirisak believes that a draw against the UAE should be enough to carry his men to the last 16 phase of the quadrennial tournament.
“The UAE have good attacking speed, but I am not too worried about it. I have been discussing this with [assistant] coach Choke [Choketawee Promrut] and we think we will be able to handle this,” said Sirisak.
“The atmosphere in the team is very good. The players are thirsty to play and are confident that they can qualify for the next round.
“Our victory over Bahrain has lifted the pressure on our shoulders a great deal.
“Our situation in the group is good and the players are looking forward to the match with the UAE.
“We will be seeking at least one point from the last Group A game. We can manage it if we stay focused throughout the match.”
Thailand will be without defender Pansa Hemviboon, who is suspended for the UAE game after collecting his second yellow card of the tournament in the match against Bahrain.
Sirisak said: “Pansa’s absence will cause some problems for us, but I think we have other players who can perform at his level.”
Meanwhile, Thailand captain Teerasil Dangda echoed his coach’s sentiments, saying that the War Elephants are in a confident mood now.
“We went through a tough time and came out of it well. The team spirit is very good now,” said Teerasil, referring to a 4-1 loss to India in Thailand’s first group stage game and the subsequent sacking of coach Milovan Rajevac.
Teerasil added: “We were able to bounce back because we had self-belief and had faith in the interim coaching staff.
“It was a great team effort to which everyone contributed.
“We are happy that we were able to defeat Bahrain and get back in contention for a place in the second round.
“Of course we celebrated the victory over Bahrain, but it’s time to focus on the match with the UAE now.
“We will be aiming for a result in the last game and I think a draw against the UAE would be enough to get us a place in the second round.”
Thailand also need to run a fitness test on defensive midfielder Tanaboon Kesarat, who picked up a knock in the game with Bahrain.