Nishino calls for immediate response
Coach wants a better show as War Elephants arrive in Hanoi for key clash with Vietnam
published : 17 Nov 2019 at 04:31
newspaper section: Sports
The War Elephants landed in Hanoi on Saturday knowing well that another limp show in Hanoi on Tuesday night could put their chances of making it to the third round of Asia's qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup in jeopardy.
The Thais were handed their first defeat in Group G action on Friday night when they let hosts Malaysia off the hook and conceded a 2-1 loss that dealt them a double blow.
As the Thais' winless streak at Kuala Lumpur's Bukit Jalil Stadium extended to four games, Akira Nishino's men also lost their top spot in the group to arch-rivals Vietnam, who stunned the United Arab Emirates 1-0 on the same night.
Vietnam now lead the standings on 10 points, with Thailand second on seven and the UAE third on six and only ahead of Malaysia on goal difference after four matches. Indonesia have yet to claim any point after four games.
Thailand were a pale shadow of the team that earlier upset the UAE, the top seeded side in the Asean-heavy qualifying pool, last month as they were outplayed by the Malaysian Tigers in every department of the game on Thursday night.
Nishino, who is expecting a more determined effort from the War Elephants at Hanoi's My Dinh Stadium, admitted that his players allowed Malaysia to dictate the match and would need to be on their very best when they face Vietnam.
"We must move on from the defeat, focus on our recovery and on our next opponents. A lot of factors let us down against Malaysia.
"It was not only our midfield but there were also other positions that I was not happy with," said the Japanese coach.
"When we first saw the draw we knew that it would be a very difficult group and you can see that now with how the standings are," Nishino added.
The Thai staff coaches cancelled last evening's training session and also barred the team members from speaking to media in Vietnam.
They instead took the players to a gym to help them regain fitness ahead of their crucial battle with Vietnam.
The Thais also face a tough trip to the UAE who, after sustaining two shock back-to-back defeats, are now extra keen to grab as many points from their remaining four game as possible.
Coach Bert van Marwijk has no doubt that the UAE will get their qualifying campaign for Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 back on track.
The eight group winners and four best runners-up advance to the continent's 12-team final qualifying stage for the 2022 finals and also earn places in the Asian Cup.
"There are still many matches [four] to play and we are determined to play them offensively to earn as much points as possible," Van Marwijk said.
"There are still points to earn in the coming rounds. We will fight to keep our chances of qualifying.
"The result of the match [against Vietnam] wasn't good for us, but in football we have to always accept the result and work for the future.
"We know the result is disappointing, but we have to always look on the positive side, which is the excellent performance of the players.
"We played almost 60 minutes with 10 men against a stubborn opponent, but I praise my players."