Chanathip, Theerathon set to start

Chanathip, Theerathon set to start

War Elephants meet Myanmar in AFF Cup

Thailand players Theerathon Bunmathan, left, and Chanathip Songkrasin, third right, listen to coach Mano Polking, second left, during a training session.
Thailand players Theerathon Bunmathan, left, and Chanathip Songkrasin, third right, listen to coach Mano Polking, second left, during a training session.

Fresh from a long rest and the arrival of Japan-based stars Chanathip Songkrasin and Theerathon Bunmathan, Thailand are looking forward to securing their second win in the 2020 AFF Suzuki Cup when they meet Myanmar on Saturday.

Thailand began their Group A campaign with an unconvincing 2-0 win over Timor Leste on Sunday.

Playmaker Chanathip and defender Theerathon did not play in the match due to their commitments with their Japanese clubs.

Myanmar, on the other hand, have already played two games in the Singapore tournament with a 3-0 loss to the hosts and a 2-0 win over Timor Leste.

Thailand coach Mano Polking said on Friday the two key players had made the team stronger.

The German-Brazilian tactician said 2014 and 2016 Suzuki Cup MVP Chanathip and Theerathon had injected fresh energy into the squad.

"Theerathon and Chanathip are good players and it's not a big surprise that they'll start tomorrow [today]," said Polking, who is in his first tournament in charge of the War Elephants.

"They are in good condition. They've played regularly in Japan and are fit so now it's finding the best system and players to play around them.

"We've been working on different systems and the training has been at a high level so it's very difficult for me to decide the first 11."

The former Bangkok United boss also confirmed that Denmark-based defender Jonathan Khemdee was a doubt with an illness.

"Jonathan had some kind of illness and left training to go to the hospital so we are still not sure on his status," Polking said.

Meanwhile, Myanmar have laid down the gauntlet to five-time champions Thailand with their coach Antoine Hey declaring this is a clash that pits a good team against good individuals as the pair prepare to face off at the National Stadium in Singapore.

Myanmar are looking to build on their victory over Timor Leste earlier this week, with their coach Hey describing the meeting with the Thais as a must-win game.

"Of course, the group is very tight and we cannot afford to lose. That's the reality. We know what is at stake and this is like a final," said the German.

The coach said the pressure is on Thailand rather than his side.

"We know that they have good individuals but we are a good team and we will see how that plays out tomorrow," Hey said.

"I see in the Thai media that they are already talking about the final with Vietnam but having watched their first match I can see that there are better teams at the tournament than Thailand.

"We have not beaten Thailand, I think, for 13 matches so all the pressure is with them but, like I said, it is a clash of a good team versus good individuals and we will see tomorrow what weighs more."

Defending champions Vietnam are in Group B with Malaysia, Indonesia, Laos and Cambodia.

The top two teams in each group reach the semi-finals with the final scheduled for Jan 1.

The 2020 edition of the biennial Asean championship was postponed from last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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