Thailand will have to act as ghostbusters if they are to overcome Singapore and win the AFF Suzuki Cup for a record fourth time at Bangkok’s Supachalasai Stadium on Saturday.
The War Elephants were badly wounded by the Lions in the first leg of the final going down 3-1 with the deepest bites being inflicted by goalscorers Fahrudin Mustafic, who grabbed the opener from the penalty spot, Khairul Amri and Baihakki Khaizan.
Defensive midfielder Adul Lahso grabbed the away goal that could prove crucial with a 2-0 victory in the return leg being enough to end Thailand's decade-long title drought.
For that to happen, they will have to exorcise the ghosts of tournaments past.
Since the inaugural Asean Football Championship in 1996, the team that has scored the first goal in the finals has always gone on to lift the trophy.
One of those sides was Singapore, who beat Thailand 2-1 in the first leg in 2007 before taking their third title with a 1-1 draw at the Supachalasai Stadium, Amri scoring the deciding goal in the 81st minute.
Thailand suffered the exact same fate in 2008 going down 2-1 in the first leg in Bangkok and drawing 1-1 in the return, the celebrated Le Cong Vinh delivering the coup de grace with an injury-time header.
While aware of the history, Thailand coach Winfried Schafer can fall back on personal milestones to inspire his side.
When he coached Karlsruhe in 1993, the German side lost 3-1 away to Spanish giants Valencia in the UEFA Cup round of 32 before bouncing back in style on home turf with a 7-0 victory.
“At the time, Valencia was one of the best teams in Spain,” said Schafer. “I have told the team the story, and I hope it will inspire them.”
Schafer said that Singapore fully deserved their 3-1 victory over Thailand at the Jalan Besar Stadium but he was confident his team would come good in the return leg.