Tue, Jan 08, 2019 - Page 16 News List

Thailand fire their coach after humiliating defeat

AFP, ABU DHABI

Thailand yesterday fired coach Milovan Rajevac following a humiliating 4-1 thrashing by India in their opening Asian Cup game on Sunday.

The 65-year-old Serb, who took charge of Thailand in 2017, paid the price after the War Elephants conceded three second-half goals to slump to a shock defeat in Abu Dhabi.

Thai soccer chiefs took a dim view of their Group A flop and acted swiftly to remove Rajevac the morning after.

“The result is not what is expected of the Thai national team and that our supporters deserve,” Thai FA president Somyot Poompanmoung said.

“Like all Thai football fans across the country, I am also disappointed with the result, but as president of the football association, I cannot stand still with this problem,” he said.

Former assistant coach Sirisak Yodyardthai is to assume control of the team when they face Bahrain and hosts United Arab Emirates, Thai officials added.

Rajevac, who has had spells in charge of Algeria and Qatar, famously steered Ghana to the quarter-finals of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, when they were beaten on penalties by Uruguay, but he was left shell-shocked by Thailand’s horror show against underdogs India, whose veteran striker Sunil Chhetri scored twice, overtaking Lionel Messi’s 65 international goals in the process.

Lamenting his side’s abject display, Rajevac said that India were worthy winners.

“They were phenomenal — they ran more, were more aggressive and wanted it more,” he said. “They absolutely deserved to win, but we underperformed, especially in the second half.”

Rajevic has been criticized for his defensive style, but the Serb clearly felt otherwise after watching Thailand overrun by a hungry India side.

“It’s not always about technical ability and skill on the ball,” he said. “We lacked power, strength and aggression. We need to put more pressure on the ball and show more passion.”

Thailand, appearing for the first time since cohosting the Asian Cup in 2007, have now won just one of 21 games at the continent’s showcase competition.

India find themselves unlikely leaders of Group A thanks to their first Asian Cup win in 55 years.

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