Singapore players assured of safety (February 03, 2007)

Kiatisak doubtful for tomorrow's clash


Singapore's national football team arrived in Bangkok yesterday and have been assured there will be strict security for tomorrow night's crucial second leg of the Asean Championship at Supachalasai Stadium. Tension is high following the controversy which erupted in the first leg when Singapore won 2-1 following a controversial penalty awarded against Thailand by Malaysian referee C. Ravichandran.

A top-level meeting on the security situation was held at the Football Association of Thailand (FAT) headquarters yesterday between Thai officials and members of the Asean Football Federation (AFF).

Also attending the meeting was Singapore Ambassador Peter Chang who discussed the situation with president of the FAT, Mr Vijitr Getkaew and the AFF secretary general, Dato Paul Mony.

Mr Chang said he had expressed concern about the situation but was reassured that security would be very tight and the safety of the visiting Singaporean team was guaranteed.

Mr Vijitr said there would be more than 600 policeman at the event including 100 Tourist Police.

''I would like fans who come to cheer the Thai team to wear yellow shirts to celebrate the 80th Birthday anniversary of His Majesty the King,'' Mr Vijitr said.

Her Royal Highness Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana will attend the match tomorrow.

Minister of Tourism and Sports, Suvit Yodmani, said everything would be done to ensure the safety of the team and visitors from Singapore.

The AFF will meet tomorrow in Bangkok to discuss Thailand's walk-off on Wednesday night.

AFF head of delegation Ibrahim Saad said the matter will be tabled at the meeting which will hear the match commissioner and referee's report. Once the AFF make a decision it will be referred to the Asian Football Confederation who will then decide if any action needs to be taken against Thailand.

The Thai team was busy training yesterday at Nong Jok national football training centre.

Head coach, Chanvit Phalajivin admitted he was a bit concerned about injuries. ''We have to check the fitness of many players like Suchao Nutnum who has four stitches in his head, Nataporn Phanrit and Datsakorn Thonglao who are also injured.''

He said Thai captain Kiatisak 'Zico' Senamuang who did not go to Singapore for the first leg because of injury was still doubtful.

''We will have to wait for the doctor's report.''

Centre back Nirut Surasiang will not be able to play because of suspension.

Mr Chanvit said Sarayuth Chaikamdee and Pipat Tonkanya will remain as the strikers.

''We have no choice but to go all out on attack,'' Chanvit said. ''However our defenders must be careful with the Singapore counter-attacks.

''It is also important our players remain calm,'' he said. ''If we can control our tempers we will win.''

Chanvit said he was happy with the choice of Indonesian referee Jimmy Napitupulu.

The Thai team have an added incentive in that the Thai Beverage Marketing Company Limited, producers of Beer Chang, have promised a bonus of two million baht for the Thai team if they win the title.

Singapore's players trained at Supachalasai stadium last night and appeared at ease. Striker Noh Alam Shah, who was involved in the penalty incident on Wednesday, said he was not worried.

''We are not afraid at all and I think there will not be any problem with the Thai people, '' he said.

''The Thai players are our friends and I'm sure the referee won't be biased.''

Singapore's coach, Radojko Avramovic said he was confident his team would win the title.

''We are not under pressure and will play our normal game. We are not concerned about the first leg, that's over. We have to do well in the second match,'' he said.

Tickets for the match will be available at the stadium from today between 9am and 5pm priced 100, 200 and 300 baht. Only 30,000 fans will allowed in the stadiums for security reasons.