War Elephants cut loose in Mandalay
Thais overwhelm Myanmar in friendly, Serbian coach Rajevac says team need improvements
A depleted War Elephants squad found the net three times in a victory over Myanmar on Thursday night, but their Serbian coach Milovan Rajevac seemed more concerned about the only goal they conceded in the friendly.
The result at Mandalar Thiri Stadium in Mandalay did not surprise anyone as the Thais took the field as favourites, but it still helped restamp their supremacy in the Asean region.
Rajevac told the post-match conference that he was happy with the 3-1 victory against a good team.
"We started off very well, played according to the tactics and finished the game with a victory," said Rajevac, a defender in his playing days, whose teams are known to be miserly in letting their opponents score.
"We are pleased with the result, but we still need to improve a few things -- especially that we shouldn't have conceded that goal.
"But some players were tired after playing so many matches in the domestic competitions in a short time."
Rajevac added: "We had four injured players who pulled out and we were left with the best available players for the friendly.
"Every match that we play, we try to produce our best form. But as I said some of the key players were exhausted and were not able to generate the needed pace at times.
"We wanted to win this game and there is no doubt that we put in our best effort tonight."
The veteran coach also praised Myanmar for their fighting spirit.
"I am very happy that we played against a good team like Myanmar tonight," said Rajevac.
"They showed us that they are a team who can keep fighting throughout 90 minutes. They have the character that we wanted to experience."
Thailand were without influential playmaker Chanathip Songkrasin, who had withdrawn from the team due to fever.
Manuel Tom Birh also pulled out as his wife was due to give birth.
Both Chanathip and Birh are expected to join the team for the next friendly with Kenya in Bangkok tomorrow. The match will be played at SCG Stadium, Muang Thong Thani at 7.30pm and will be televised live on Thai Rath TV (channel 32).
In Chanathip's absence, Rajevac handed the midfield duties to Sanrawat Detchmitr and Theerathon Bunmathan and they were both impressive on Thursday night.
Thailand had a chance in the sixth minute but Mongkol Thossakrai was denied by Myanmar goalkeeper Thiaha Sithu.
The War Elephants' first goal came a few minutes later when Theerathon slipped the ball to Mongkol, who beat a Myanmar defender before planting a left-footed drive into the net.
The Thais controlled the game well and were rewarded when Sanrawat set up Teerasil Dangda to coolly chip the ball over a diving Thiaha Sithu a little after the 30-minute mark to double his team's advantage.
The hosts came back well in the second half and pulled one back when Zin Min Thu slid the ball through the legs of a Thai defender for Aung Thu to score from close range.
Thailand sent in Supoj Jodjum to replace Sanrawat but before he could settle in, the debutant striker had to leave the field due to injury.
The War Elephants finally took the wind out of Myanmar's sails when Siroch Chatthong, a second-half replacement for Theerathon, was brought down by the Myanmar goalkeeper inside the box and Thitiphan Puangjan converted the resultant penalty.
During the last 10 minutes of the match, Myanmar saw a curling free-kick from Kyaw Ko Ko warded off by diving Thai goalkeeper Kawin Thamsatchanan.