Thailand Under-23 coach Kiatisuk Senamuang believes Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Myanmar should not necessarily be seen as a bad result for his side.
The draw, which came after Pravinwat Boonyong’s 47th-minute equaliser cancelled out Nay Lin Tun’s opener for Myanmar three minutes after the half-hour mark, was enough to keep the War Elephants top of Group B at the 2013 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games.
The Thais now only need to avoid defeat in their final group game against Cambodia on Monday to seal their spot in the semi-finals, while the fact that Myanmar will face a toughest test against Indonesia means Kiatisuk’s charges are in pole position to finish top.
Although both sides were evenly matched in Saturday’s game at the Thuwunna Stadium, the hosts arguably enjoyed the better chances and could have claimed all three points had captain Kyaw Zayar Win been more clinical in front of goal.
But even though his side missed the chance to book their place in the last four, Kiatisuk does not believe it was a bad result for Thailand.
“It is normal [to drop points],” he said. “The key thing is to get to the semi-finals as group winners, as well as not having injuries.
“If that happens, it will be a success.”
The former Thailand striker, who netted 70 goals in 131 caps, also revealed they had taken their opponents very seriously given Myanmar’s status as a rising force in the region, although he admitted their cause was helped by an injury to opposition star Kyi Lin midway through the opening 45.
“Myanmar is improving very fast,” Kiatisuk explained. “We played with our best players because we were looking to get the three points.
“Of course, Kyi Lin is a good player. When he was replaced, we coped better without him in the Myanmar side.”
Despite the SEA Games’ status as an Under-23 tournament, with the senior sides vying for top honours at the AFF Suzuki Cup instead, Kiatisuk believes the eventual gold medallists can lay claim to being Southeast Asia’s best team.
“Whichever country is the best in Southeast Asia will be the team that wins the gold medal at this Games,” he added.
Thailand captain Theerathon Bunmathan, Pravinwat and Krirkrit Thaweekarn all picked up their second yellows of the tournament on Saturday and will be suspended for the clash with Cambodia.