THAILAND ARE ready to spring another surprise in the King’s Cup when they face Belarus in the final today.
The hosts scored an impressive 3-0 victory over North Korea on Friday to the amazement of fans and coach.
Milovan Rajevac, who took over as the national coach two months ago, was on cloud nine.
“We had a very difficult match against North Korea. They are a very strong team and it’s challenge to play them. But we managed to score a goal at the end of the first half which made our job a bit easier after that,” said the Serbian, who tasted success for the first time with the Thai team.
Rajevac started with a defeat against Uzbekistan in a friendly match but the Kingdom showed remarkable improvement in the next two matches. They played out a draw against a tough United Arab Emirates side in the World Cup Qualifiers before the convincing win against Jorn Andersen’s squad on Friday.
Pattaya United’s Mongkol Tossakrai, Chiangrai United’s Thitiphan Puangjan, and substitute Teeratep Winothai scored the three goals, a triumph that may rekindle faith for the national team among local fans after the disastrous World Cup campaign.
“I am proud of my players. They were gutsy and left their hearts on the pitch. We had prepared very well for the match and it showed in the players’ display. Though it was a tough day, they coped well,” said Rajevac.
Thailand will face a sterner test against Belarus in the final, which is due at 7.30pm at the Rajamangala National Stadium.
Rajevac said his players have a Herculean task but believed the Cup is not out of reach.
“Recently Belarus beat Bulgaria which was a good result for them. They introduced many young players into the team. They are on the right path and they keep improving their performance with every match. But the most important thing is to rest and recover for the next match,” said Rajevac who quoted Manchester United’s manager’s Jose Mourinho famous line: “It is not important how you play but it is important to win the match.”
Winger Mongkol, who also scored for Thailand against the United Arab Emirates, said his team would make maximum effort to win the match and make Thai fans happy.
“We know what the fans want. We will sleep well, get ready for the final and try to win for them,” Mongkol said.
Belarus’s national coach Ilya Belanovsky, whose side beat Burkina Faso 3-0 in a penalty shoot-out, said: “ Thailand have good players with plenty of experience. The Thai goalkeeper Kawin Thamsatchanan did a great job.”
Before the final, North Korea and Burkina Faso will play for third place at 4.30pm, which will be shown live on Thai Rath TV32.