Sloppy Thailand Stagger On
Thailand 2 Laos 1.
Ranked in 193rd place in the FIFA ranking, Laos were selected to give the home team, ranked 62 places higher, a workout followed by a morale boosting win. Unable to pick players from Chonburi or Bangkok Glass who played each other last night and without Teerasil, Suchao Nutnum (both injured) & Anthony Ampaipitakwong (ill) coach Winfried Schaefer was back to picking a “whoever is left” team.
The game started with plenty of dynamic movement; unfortunately not from the home team, who played like strangers from different countries. After eight minutes, the tone for a dire home first half was set when Laos striker Sopha Saysana beat Kawin Thammasatchanan. The Muang Thong stopper will be bitterly disappointed with, like an England cricketer misreading the line from a South African bowler, being bowled by a touch of late swing.
Two second-half goals from Suriya, seconds after spooning a Sunday league open goal over the bar and Teerathorn Boonmathan from the spot at least painted a thin veneer of respectability onto the result. The penalty was spotted by the Thai, yes that’s Thai referee, when Ketsada Souksavanh brainlessly tugged the shirt of the man with many Alice bands.
And how do we select the most depressing aspect of the evening? Like the 2012 BBC Sports Personality of the Year, it seems unfair to select one as it might overshadow all the others. How about choosing to play in the least accessible stadium creating a sparse crowd and funereal atmosphere? Or maybe scheduling the game 24 hours after Chonburi played Bangkok Glass, eliminating some of the key players who could have stamped their authority on this contest? Maybe that this could be the only warm up game before the Suzuki Cup? If we had to select a winner, this would get my vote: in shirts that looked like they were bought this morning from a National Stadium bargain bin sports shop, Laos went ahead against a team whose emblem could barely be seen between acres of sponsors. The players celebrated to a certain degree but, panning to the bench, they raised their eyebrows slightly as if reviewing a training ground drill. It wasn’t a big deal. Thailand are no longer the Asian Tigers of the late 90s, when ASEAN glory and a FIFA ranking of 43 in 1998 seemed the perfect springboard for a new era of success. Coach Schaefer has tried to instill professional attitudes and transparent oversight to the running of the national team, but with little success. Whilst continuing to complain about the ineptitude governing him, his criticism now contains a tone of resignation. As divorce lawyers around the world dictate; don’t worry about separating couples who argue. Start worrying when they stop fighting.