Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Thailand should end long title drought: Therdsak

Singapore – Thai midfield legend Therdsak Chaiman is confident that the current Thailand team have the quality to finally put their decade-long drought at the AFF Suzuki Cup behind them and lift the trophy for a record fourth time this year.

The War Elephants dominated the early years of the competition, winning three of the first four finals with Therdsak himself named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player when they claimed the 2002 title with a penalty shootout victory over Indonesia at the Gelora Bungkarno Stadium in Jakarta.

But despite reaching the finals on two occasions since then, the past 10 years have been frustrating for the Thais as they have failed to add to their tally of three championships. They were beaten in the 2007 final by Singapore, lost to Vietnam a year later and failed to even reach the semi-finals in 2004 and 2010.

But after watching Winfried Schafer’s side march impressively through to another final clash against Singapore, Therdsak believes that their long years of frustration may finally be behind them.

“We have not won the championship for 10 years but it seems like this is the right time to bring the trophy back,” said the 39-year-old to affsuzukicup.com.

“We haven’t won it since 2002 and that’s too long for our Thai fans to wait. But we have a good team this year and I think that we should finally be the champions again.

“We have some excellent players now. I think that Teerasil Dangda is one of the the region’s best strikers. He has good technique, he is very fast and he is also a good finisher. He is only 24-year-old but he already has a lot of experience playing with the national team and at the AFF Suzuki Cup so I think that has helped his performance in this year’s tournament.

“Datsakorn Thonglao is also a strong leader and a good player in midfield who can create a lot of good chances for the strikers.

“And we also have a lot of younger players who are coming up well for our team. (Full-back) Theerathon Bunmathan has been very impressive in this tournament with his good technique and fine individual play,(central midfielder) Adul Lahsoh has handled things well in midfield and the speed of (winger) Anucha Kitpongsri has made him a very dangerous player.”

According to Therdsak, the team also have an excellent coach in Schafer, who has the team performing to a high level.

“I think that he is very good coach,” said Therdsak of the German. “He understands what the players want and what they are thinking so that is good.”

Having spent several years playing for Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) in the S-League alongside current Singapore internationals Aleksandar Duric, Daniel Bennett and Shaiful Esah, Therdsak also has a good insight into the Lions squad and expects them to pose a tough challenge for the Thais in the final.

“Singapore now have a strong side,” he said. “They have some good young players who have come up, they have (striker) Khairul Amri back from injury, they have a very good coach in Raddy Avramovic and they have an excellent forward in Aleksandar Duric.

“Duric is very dangerous for their team because he is like a giant. Maybe he is not a fast player but he has a lot of experience and he knows how to use the ball well.”

Duric and Therdsak have remained close since their time together at SAF but the Thai said that their friendship will be put aside for the final.

“We were good friends when we played together for SAF and we still get along well with each other,” admits Therdsak, who has retired from international football but still turns out for Thai club Choburi.

“I am very happy that he is still playing well at the age of 42 and that he has helped Singapore to reach the final. But maybe it’s not good that they are playing against Thailand in the final because he won’t get a chance to lift the trophy!”

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