Pathum Thani: Thailand were unable to begin their FIFA World Cup Qatar and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 Asian Qualifiers campaign with a win, but head coach Akira Nishino believes Thursday’s 0-0 draw with Vietnam gives them something to build on.
Nishino’s first game in charge was a battle between fierce regional rivals, but neither could conjure a breakthrough goal at Thammasat Stadium, stretching Thailand’s winless run on home soil to five matches.
The Changsuek had won both encounters against Vietnam during the same round of qualifying in 2015, but, despite their inability to repeat that success on home soil, Nishino said the stalemate is a result from which his side can grow.
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Matchday 1: Results & Reports
MD1 - Group G: Thailand 0-0 Vietnam
MD1 - Group G: Indonesia 2-3 Malaysia
“We are under a certain pressure to advance into the third round of the 2022 World Cup Qualifiers for the 12 strongest teams,” said the former Japan national team boss.
“We prepared well for the match and this result is acceptable. Tomorrow morning, we will meet to learn from the experience. This is only the first match.
“The result with Vietnam is not bad. I believe we will have better results next time.”
With veteran forward Teerasil Dangda and 2018 AFF Cup top scorer Adisak Kraison both unavailable, and Buriram United youngster Supachai Jaided left on the bench, Thailand began the game without an out and out striker in their starting line-up.
Instead, the attacking burden fell on the shoulders of Thitiphan Puangjan and Supachok Sarachat, but despite their inability to find the net, Nishino was satisfied with his approach.
"I see no problem with a formation without a true striker,” said the 2008 AFC Champions League winner. “We played with two forwards, Thitiphan and Supachok.
“You could see Vietnam playing very cautiously. They stepped back and made it difficult to penetrate the penalty area very much. Our team tried to pass back and forth to stretch them out, however, the forwards did not finish well. That is a pity, "
While Thailand ponder the way forward in attack, the stalemate in Pathum Thani appears to be a more favourable result for Vietnam, who emerged from the first of three tricky away days against ASEAN rivals in Group G without defeat.
Reflecting on an often-heated encounter, which saw him yellow carded in the latter stages, Vietnam head coach Park Hang-seo said the 0-0 result was just about a fair one.
“We had a tough game against Thailand,” said the Korean boss, now two years into what has been a successful tenure thus far.
“We had to play away, and, in fact, we had chances to score a few goals, but the team also had many dangerous situations to defend during the match.
"As a head coach, I would like to thank the players who played hard and with determination."
“Maybe I'm sorry, because I received a yellow card today. There was an unfortunate situation on the pitch. If I made a mistake, then I'm sorry.”
Vietnam have a month-long break before their next FIFA World Cup Qatar and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 Asian Qualifier at home to Malaysia on October, while there is little time to rest for Thailand, who will face Indonesia in their next Group H match in Jakarta on Tuesday.
Photos: AFP, Football Association of Thailand
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