Coach fumes at idea he should quit after stunning Cup exit
Thailand coach Milovan Rajevac has angrily dismissed the suggestion he should consider resigning following the team’s shock exit in the AFF Suzuki Cup semi-finals.
The War Elephants lost on away goals to Malaysia, managing only a 2-2 draw in Bangkok on Wednesday after Saturday’s 0-0 stalemate in Kuala Lumpur.
Red-hot striker Adisak Kraisorn, who bagged six goals in the tournament opener and eight overall, went from hero to villain, blazing a do-or-die injury-time penalty over the bar in front of 45,000 stunned fans at the Rajamangala National Stadium.
It was a desperately disappointing end to the Kingdom’s quest for a hat-trick of Suzuki Cup triumphs – indeed, their failure to reach the final for the first time in eight years was a stunning result.
Both the coach and his players had expressed the fullest confidence that the five-time champions would make home advantage count.
When a reporter dared asked the Serbian if he would now “take responsibility” for the shocking outcome, he bristled and fired back: “This kind of question should never be asked here.”
He pointed instead to the fact that his side had lost none of the six games they played in the tournament and had “only” gone out on the away goals rule.
“We never lost to any team but we are out of the tournament because of the away goals,” he protested. “But this is football and we have to move forward.”
Of Adisak’s penalty miss, he said: “I was thinking of changing the penalty taker to someone who was a bit more fresh but it was agreed before the match that Adisak would be the first priority. It was unlucky he missed.”
Nevertheless Rajevac praised Malaysia for put up a brave fight. “In both matches Malaysia definitely showed more determination and aggression than Thailand,” he admitted. “They deserve to be in the final.”
An emotional Adisak Kraisorn apologised to the fans for letting people down.
“I made a mistake I shouldn’t have,” he said of his heartbreaking miss. “I thought too much. This is a lesson learned. I’m truly sorry for the mistake and will keep fighting.”
Thailand will have to quickly put this heartbreaking experience behind them – they will soon be preparing for the AFC Asian Cup which starts next month in the United Arab Emirates.
“We have to concentrate on that competition. We will have additional players who couldn’t play in this competition so we are concentrating on that now,” said Rajevac, who plans to strengthen the team by recruiting key strikers Chanathip Songkrasin and Teerasil Dangda, who currently have commitments in the J-League.
The Malaysian players, now looking forward to a Suzuki Cup final against the winners of last night’s second semi between Vietnam or Philippines, were quick to get their own back on boastful Thai goalkeeper Chatchai Budprom.
He had said before the game that he hoped the visitors had slept well because he could promise them a nightmare defeat in Bangkok.
Some of the Malaysians posted a video of them sleeping in their locker room … and mockingly called out his name, in case anyone should be in any doubt what the joke was about.