Asian Cup: Thailand focused only on UAE as slim hopes of qualifying for last 16 remain
Interim coach Sirisak Yodyardthi keen to keep his players concentrated on their upcoming match against the tournament hosts
Thailand are all too wary of the threat posed by the UAE in Monday’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 on Sunday. "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 in 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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Updated: January 14, 2019 11:39 AM