Thailand coach Milovan Rajevac says he is proud of his men and their progress although the War Elephants lost 3-2 to Slovakia in the King’s Cup final at Rajamangala National Stadium on Sunday night.
“I am very much proud of my team. Look at the Fifa rankings, Slovakia are 100 places higher than Thailand. We were inferior to Slovakia in every department but the players fought to the best of their ability…
“We caused them trouble. The silver medal is like a gold medal.”
Thailand are 129th and Slovakia 29th in the latest Fifa rankings.
The Serbian coach added: “We have been making progress continuously. We had little time to prepare for the tournament but the players could pick up the tactics and played accordingly. They have gained experience from playing against a world-class team.”
Rajevac said he was looking forward to the 2019 Asian Cup to be held in the United Arab Emirates in January.
Football Association of Thailand president Somyot Poompunmuang said he would try to arrange strong teams in warm-up games for the War Elephants ahead of the Asian Cup.
Before the continental championship, Thailand will try to defend their Suzuki Cup (Southeast Asian championship) later this year. The War Elephants will get seven million baht in bonus from the FAT –five million baht for their penalty shootout win against Gabon in the first match and two million baht for their defeat to Slovakia.
Thailand midfielder Chanathip Songkrasin said: “Slovakia are a strong team and have many good players. We tried our best but still lost. However, we have gained a lot of experience from playing against such a good team.”
Slovakia coach Jan Kozak was full of praise for Chanathip and striker Teerasil Dangda.
“Thailand are a good and strong opponent. They were two goals down but they did not give up. They have many good players and the two outstanding are No.18 [Chanathip] and No.10 [Teerasil]. I think they many good players and the two outstanding are No.18 [Chanathip] and No.10 [Teerasil]. I think they have a bright future in football.”
The visitors opened the scoring after just nine minutes through Ondrej Duda and Robert Mak made it 2-0 in the 34th minute.
Three minutes before half-time, Thailand cut the deficit to 2-1 thanks to an error by Slovakia goalkeeper Michal Sulla.
Sulla was not under threat from any Thai player when he kicked the ball straight at Teerasi
The striker then passed the ball to Jakkraphan Kaewprom who comfortably sent the ball into the back of the net.
The Slovaks restored a two-goal lead in the 67th minute when Erik Pacinda beat Thailand goalkeeper Kawin Thamsatchanant. Phansa Hemviboon made it 3-2 in the 79th minute.
Meanwhile, Slovakia captain Martin Skrtel suffered a health scare in Sunday’s final, the British media reported.
The former Liverpool defender collapsed after he was struck on the temple by Chanathip’s cross in the 27th minute.
The 33-year-old was saved by his teammate Ondrej Duda, who realised the severity of the incident, reaching into his mouth to ensure he didn’t swallow his tongue.
The medical team soon rushed in to take over from Duda.
After a brief moment on the touchline, Fenerbahce’s Skrtel returned to the field and played on until midway through the second half.
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