Robson ready to tame Lions (14 November 2009)

SINGAPORE – New Thailand coach Bryan Robson takes charge of his first competitive match on Saturday in an Asian Cup qualifier against Singapore with both sides looking to make their mark in Group E.

The former England and Manchester United captain took over from Peter Reid last month and enjoyed a winning start to his tenure with a 2-0 friendly win over Myanmar champions Yadanarbon.

However, the match against regional rivals Singapore at the National Stadium will undoubtedly provide a sterner test for Thailand, as they look to secure their first win in the group.

Singapore, meanwhile, have one win from two games meaning they currently lie one place and a point above Thailand.

And Robson is under no illusions as to the difficult challenge that awaits him and his players, but stressed he will not be sending his team out to play for a draw.

“I’ve been to Singapore on many occasions but never in this capacity as the head coach of a team,” said the former Middlesbrough and Bradford City manager.

“As a coach I always try to win matches whether home or away. I never send a team out just to hold on to a point. I always tell my players to express themselves when they are on the ball.

“I know that (Singapore coach) Raddy (Radojko Avramovic) has worked with Singapore for a long time and he knows his players very well. We want to give them a tough game and I’m sure it will be a good game.”

The game marks the first of a double-header between the two sides with Singapore to make the trip to Thailand for the return fixture on Wednesday.

Robson stressed it is vital for his side to take maximum points from both games if they are to maintain hopes of securing a place at the Asian Cup in 2011.

“If both teams win one and lose one, then it doesn’t do anything for either team,” he added.

“If both games end in draws, then it might open the door for Jordan to come back into it. It will be an advantage if either team wins both games.”

Avramovic, meanwhile, admitted he is expecting a closely fought affair between the two sides he perceives as the best in South East Asia.

After opening their qualifying campaign with a 6-0 defeat to Iran in January, Singapore bounced back with a 2-1 home win over Jordan at the National Stadium and they will be looking to build on that with another victory over Thailand.

“The two best teams in South East Asia will be in action and there’s no better occasion to be at the stadium,” said Avramovic.

“The players have tried very hard in training and the attitude has been really great. All of them are working hard to be in the starting 11.

“These two games will not determine which team is the best in this region. However, the importance of the first result will only be known after the next game. Which team is better after these two games has nothing to do with that.”