Schafer urges Thailand “to play for the win”

Schafer urges Thailand “to play for the win”

Thailand want to reach the AFF Suzuki Cup final in style with a victory over titleholders Malaysia in the second leg of their semi-final at Bangkok’s Supachalasai Stadium on Thursday.

Teerasil Dangda scored a hat-trick against Myanmar (Photo: Asia)

A goalless draw would be good enough to see Thailand safely into their sixth final in nine editions of the Asean Football Championship but coach Winfried Schafer does not want the three-time champions to take that route.

Thailand drew 1-1 with Malaysia in the first leg at a packed Bukit Jalil National Stadium in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday and would advance on the away goals rule if Thursday’s match ends 0-0.

“We will not play for a draw. We don’t want to reach the final with two draws,” he said.

“Our players’ confidence has been boosted by the 1-1 draw in Kuala Lumpur. We feel that we will be the winners in the Bangkok match.”

Malaysia coach K. Rajagobal said that there was no reason why his team could not beat Thailand in their own backyard.

“We surprised them in Kuala Lumpur and we can surprise them again,” he said. “We’ll give it our best. We are here to try and reach the final.

“The score now is 1-1 and we have a good chance of winning it. We just have to make sure we continue our good work.”

Skipper Safiq Rahim, who played a more attacking role than usual against Thailand in Kuala Lumpur, said that determination coursing through the team could be a deciding factor.

“Small things will separate the great teams that are left now. There was no guarantee that we would get this far, but we want to stay in the tournament until the final, until the end,” he told the New Straits Times.

“Thailand are still the team to beat but we have showed to everyone that we can match them in every department.

“We were in our element in the first leg but it was not enough to beat them. We must forget about that and focus on the return leg. I believe we can only get better.”

The winner of Thursday’s semi will meet Singapore or the Philippines in the two-legged final for the biggest prize in South-East Asian football.

Singapore host the second leg today (Wednesday) at the Jalan Besar Stadium after the first match in Manila ended in a scoreless draw.

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