AFF Cup 2010: Robson blames fatigue for shock result (1/12/2010)

JAKARTA: Thailand coach Bryan Robson is expecting a vast improvement from his side in their remaining AFF Suzuki Cup Group A matches after their sluggish performance against Laos on Wednesday saw them surprisingly drop points in a 2-2 draw against Laos.

The Laotians were on the verge of the biggest shock in tournament history when substitute Kanlaya Sysomvang fired them into a surprise 2-1 lead with just eight minutes left.

But Sarayoot Chaikamdee, who had earlier cancelled out Konekham Inthammavong's opener for the underdogs, headed in his second goal of the match in stoppage time to spare the blushes for the three-time champions.

With 12 players in his squad involved in a draining Thai FA Cup final just three days earlier, Robson felt that fatigue played a big part in the surprise result.

"Overall the game was disappointing for us but quite a few of the players had a hard game on Sunday. We looked like a team that didn't prepare well for the tournament and had not trained much together," said the former England international captain.

"It was a sluggish performance but at least the players showed good character to come back well twice. Our choices were limited because we had a lot of tired players but I thought that we were more threatening when Datsakorn (Thonglao) and Teerasil (Dangda) came on as substitutes late in the second half."

While a point against the group's perceived minnows may not have been the best way for the Thais to start, Robson was keen to focus on the positives after having little time to work with his players in the build-up to the tournament.

"It was a disappointing result but it has not affected our aims for the competition too much," he said. "What it does mean is that we must get good results in our next games against Malaysia and Indonesia.

"The good thing for us is that now I will have more time to work with the players in training something that I didn't have a chance to do before this game.

"But I've still got confidence in the players that they can get the result that we need to advance."

While disappointed not to see his side pick up all three points, Laos coach David Booth was still pleased with the result as Laos avoided defeat against the Thais for the first time in the AFF Suzuki Cup, or in any match for that matter in over three decades.

"We can consider it as two points lost but, as our team manager said earlier, Laos have not even managed a draw against Thailand in 35 years so we have to be thankful for small mercies," said the Englishman.

"To be in the position to win the game in the closing minutes was more than what we expected. But we have worked very hard for the last two to three months and for the first time, we showed what we had.

"The players worked their socks off tonight. We have a very young team, many of whom are playing in a stadium and an atmosphere like this for the first time. But I thought that they did a very, very good job today."