Thais prepare for showdown (February 02, 2007)

Players urged to forget first leg


Thai players have been told to put Wednesday night's controversial match out of their minds and concentrate on winning the second leg of the Asean Championship final against Singapore at Supachalsai stadium Sunday night. The Thai team have come under fire for walking off the pitch for 15 minutes after disputing a penalty decision by Malaysian referee C.Ravichandran . Singapore went on to win 2-1 and the Thai team left the pitch to a chorus of boos from the Singaporean fans.

Team manager Thavatchai Sajakul said it was important Thailand play their best football in Sunday night's match. ''They must not think about what happened in Singapore. They must be thinking how to win on Sunday,'' he said. ''I think that every player knows what he has to do.''

Head coach, Chanvit Phalajivin said the Thai players must perform with all their heart. ''We know we have to beat them if we want to win the title,'' he said.

''We have lost Nirut Surasiang who is suspended but we have good cover for that position.''

Football Association of Thailand president, Vijitr Getkaew was at the airport yesterday to greet the players.

He said he would be discussing the incident which occurred in Singapore with officials from the Asean Football Federation (AFF) this weekend. Vijitr said up to 1,500 policemen will be on duty at Supachalasai to ensure there is no trouble

AFF executive secretary Yap Nyim Keong was quoted in Singapore newspapers as saying a decision on whether to punish Thailand would be made after examining the match report. ''We will wait for the report of the match commissioner and then decide if there will be action taken against Thailand,'' he said.

It was confirmed yesterday that Indonesian referee Jimmy Napitupulu would be in charge of Sunday's match. The two assistant referees are Muhammad Yunus Suaidi from Indonesia and Cambodia's Koung Ly.

Napitupulu officiated in the first leg semi-final in Hanoi when Thailand beat Vietnam 2-0.

Wednesday's match was refereed by Malaysia's C.Ravichandran. The Thai players felt he did not give them enough protection from physical challenges by their opponents and when the penalty went against them it was the final straw.

For security reasons the crowd for Sunday's match is being limited to 30,000 although Supachalasai can hold nearly 40,000.

Tickets at 100, 200 and 300 baht will be on sale at the stadium tomorrow from 9 am to 5 pm and Sunday from 9 am to 12 noon and from 2 pm until the kick off.

There are expected to be 2,000 Singapore fans in the stadium cheering on their team.