Young Elephants aim to surprise Vietnam in final

Young Elephants aim to surprise Vietnam in final

Daunting task: Thailand head coach Mano Polking.
Daunting task: Thailand head coach Mano Polking.

Thai men's team coach Mano Polking said yesterday the Young Elephants will enter Sunday's SEA Games football final as the "underdogs" against "a better prepared" Vietnam side.

Polking told a pre-match news conference that he was expecting a tough game against the hosts and defending champions who would be backed by a huge crowd at the 40,000-seat My Dinh Stadium in Hanoi.

Thai team manager Nualphan Lamsam also urged the players to stay calm and avoid situations that have led to two Thai players picking up red cards in the tournament so far.

The Thais will be without midfielder William Weiderjoe who was sent off late in extra time of the Young Elephants' 1-0 semi-final victory in which three Indonesians were also handed red cards.

Jonathan Khemdee had received a red card during the first Group B game against Malaysia which Thailand lost 2-1.

Polking said: "We have the quality to win the gold medal but the atmosphere at the venue will be daunting and it'll all boil down to the players' ability to handle the pressure.

"I am happy with the results and the way we have played in this SEA Games. The players only need to cope with the pressure.

"Vietnam are the favourites. They have been together for a long time whereas we only had one day to train for the tournament so we are the underdogs."

Vietnam coach Park Hang-Seo is also not expecting an easy outing.

"Thailand are a good team -- they have scored 13 goals and conceded only two in the tournament so far -- so it won't be an easy game for us," said Park.

"Vietnamese fans are very passionate about football and they're expecting us to win the gold medal, which has put the players under a lot of pressure.

"Vietnam have never beaten Thailand in the SEA Games, but I am not worried about the past. We have to focus on the final and do our best."

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