Thailand make Yodyadthai proud
Al Ain: Sirisak Yodyadthai declared himself “very happy” to have guided Thailand into the knockout stage of the AFC Asian Cup for the first time in 47 years as the War Elephants progressed to the next phase of the competition following their 1-1 draw with hosts the United Arab Emirates.
Thitiphan Puangjan scored four minutes before the half-time break to cancel out Ali Mabkhout’s seventh minute opener for Alberto Zaccheroni’s side to ensure the teams shared the points at Al Ain’s Hazza bin Zayed Stadium in their Group A clash on Monday.
That meant the UAE finished on top with Thailand second ahead of Bahrain thanks to their superior head-to-head record over the West Asians, who claimed a late win over India to also book their place in the Round of 16.
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“Before the game today, I was worried because coming into this match we knew it would be tough against the hosts, but the team was well prepared to play today,” said Sirisak.
“The other game had to be accounted for because it could go either way but here we are, we have qualified and I’m very happy for the Thai fans.”
Thailand’s qualification in second place in the first time since 1972 that the country has advanced beyond the group phase of the AFC Asian Cup and comes despite a disappointing start to the tournament, with the 4-1 loss at the hands of India seeing Serbian coach Milovan Rajevac fired.
Sirisak was appointed in his place and the 49-year-old, who worked alongside Rajevac as one of his assistants, has overseen a significant improvement in the team’s performances, securing a 1-0 win over Bahrain before sharing the points with Zaccheroni’s team on Monday evening.
“After the defeat against India, things weren’t looking so good for our team and when I came in and things needed to changed,” he said.
“We inserted determination and motivation into the team and in the last two games I could see the players were determined to do better and get a positive result. I’m very proud and very happy and so grateful that we have made history for the Thai national team.”
Zaccheroni’s side topped the group with five points from their three group games as the Emirates advanced to the knockout stage four years after reaching the AFC Asian Cup semi-finals.
But the Italian was less than satisfied with his team’s performance throughout the 90 minutes against the Thais.
“In all three matches we controlled them and, all in all, we were better than the other teams,” he said. “But I was expecting a better performance, we scored the early goal and controlled the game but after scoring we conceded the equaliser and we lost concentration and didn’t take advantage of playing at home.
“I know the fans are not happy with our performance and we aspire to do well in the coming stage, taking advantage of playing at home. Our team has solutions and we’ll use those in the coming matches.”
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