Thai­land ready for a nervy night

The National - News - - ASIAN CUP 2019 SPORT - JOHN MCAULEY

Thai­land are all too wary of the threat posed by the UAE in to­day’s de­ci­sive Asian Cup en­counter in Al Ain, ac­cord­ing to in­terim coach Sirisak Yod­yardthi.

The two sides meet at the Hazza bin Zayed Sta­dium on the fi­nal day in Group A, with the UAE sit­ting top of the stand­ings and Thai­land third, al­though they are level on points with sec­ond-placed In­dia. In­dia take on Bahrain in Shar­jah at the same time.

As such, the South-East Asians’ qual­i­fi­ca­tion hopes hang in the bal­ance. Only the top two sides seal an au­to­matic spot in the knock­out stages, to­gether with the four best third-placed teams from the tour­na­ment’s six groups.

Thai­land, who sacked man­ager Milo­van Ra­je­vac last week fol­low­ing their sur­prise 4-1 de­feat in their opener with In­dia, are seek­ing to get be­yond the groups for the first time since 1972.

How­ever, they will have to wait un­til they dis­cover the re­sult of In­dia’s clash against Bahrain be­fore they can be­gin to plan for the last 16. For Sirisak, though, it is all about fo­cus­ing on what is in Thai hands.

“There are so many sce­nar­ios that could hap­pen in our group, so I’m not think­ing about that,” he said yes­ter­day.

“I’m con­cen­trat­ing on putting our best ef­fort into to­mor­row’s game and we’ll see where it takes us.” The UAE should hold no sur­prises for Thai­land con­sid­er­ing the teams faced each other dur­ing qual­i­fi­ca­tion for the 2018 Fifa World Cup.

The UAE won the first match at home 3-1, even though Thai­land more than held their own, with the re­turn fix­ture in Bangkok end­ing in a 1-1 draw. Nei­ther side qual­i­fied for the tour­na­ment in Rus­sia.

“We played two matches against the UAE in World Cup qual­i­fy­ing and we know they are very strong,” Sirisak said.

“Apart from their phys­i­cal­ity they are also very quick, but we hope the Thai play­ers will give their best, go out there with full men­tal­ity, and earn some­thing from the game.”

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