Kiatisuk wary against ‘confident’ Singapore

Thailland national team coach Kiatisuk Senamuang believes Singapore are the favourites going into today's AFF Suzuki Cup encounter.

The two traditional Southeast Asian giants will lock horns at Singapore’s new National Stadium on Sunday night, with Kiatisuk asserting that his side will be the underdogs to the record four-time winners.

“Many people are saying we’re the favourites, but they’re just looking at our past,” he told FourFourTwo at the team’s base at M Hotel on Saturday afternoon.

“Now I know my players are still new and fresh. The Singapore team is now stronger and more confident because they’ve been training together for a long time. They have good stability and unity within the team; their play is smooth and they stay very compact.

“That’s why we’ll try to get at least one point from Singapore. Three points will be a big bonus for us.”

Witnessing Singapore claim three titles over the last decade to overtake Thailand as the most successful country in Southeast Asia, Kiatisuk admits that was something which hurts him as he places his focus on injecting new blood into the War Elephants.

15 players out of the 22-strong Thai squad featured in the 2014 Incheon Asian Games where they finished in an impressive fourth place, with the man affectionately known as ‘Zico’ hoping that his youth policy will pay off at this tournament.

“This is football – if you want success, you have to start building up young players,” he said.

“I’m on a five-year contract with the FA and I want them to get to a higher level like the Olympics or even the World Cup. My philosophy now is more about developing the next generation and giving them opportunities to shine.

“We know that we don’t have much experience as compared to the other teams like Singapore, Malaysia and Myanmar, but we’ll fight hard in every game.”

While much of the attentions has been focused on exciting midfield talent Chanathip ‘Messi Jay’ Songkrasin, Kiatisuk believes his side have to play as a team in order to take down the Lions tomorrow.

“He’s small and quick like (Lionel) Messi, but first he must show his quality on the field,” the 41-year-old said.

“I’ve talked to him and I told him ‘you’re not Messi, you’re Jay’. If you want to be like him, you have to work hard.

“I want all of them to have the unity and play to the team tactics; there should not be one single star in the team.”

Photo: Kamthorn Pornsakulpaisal