11 July 2017

The only option for former Ghana coach Milovan Rajevac is to win the Gold Cup for Thailand

For Thai officials and fans, the King’s Cup is still one of the most important football tournaments although it is now just a friendly event featuring four teams. 

This year’s edition will be played at Rajamangala National Stadium next weekend.

On Thursday, world No.131 Thailand take on No.113 North Korea, while No.44 Burkina Faso face No.71 Belarus.

The winners meet in the final and the losers compete in the third-place play-off with both games taking place on Sunday.

Football Association of Thailand (FAT) president Somyot Poompunmuang believes that new national coach Milovan Rajevac is capable of steering the War Elephants to back-to-back King’s Cups.

After starting his Thailand reign with a 2-0 loss at Uzbekistan in a friendly match, Rajevac guided his men to an impressive 1-1 draw with the United Arab Emirates in a World Cup qualifier in his first competitive match as coach of Thailand last month.

Indeed, Thailand would have sealed a rare win against the UAE had they not conceded a last-gasp equaliser.

Somyot was so impressed by the national team’s performance that he joked later that powerhouses France and Uruguay turned down Thailand’s invitations to take part in the King’s Cup because they were afraid they could lose to Thailand after seeing their match against the UAE.

It seems that Rajevac is under pressure to not only keep the King’s Cup in Thailand but also to improve the team’s strike force.

Rajevac has been hailed for making Thailand stronger defensively but FAT technical chief Witthaya Laohakul thinks that is not enough.

Witthaya, a former national team player and coach, said Thailand could not just sit back to defend their goal and they must attack their opponents as well.

“Our attacking game should be better than the one in the UAE game,” Witthaya was quoted as saying.

“If you only want to focus on defence, then any Thai coaches may be able to do the job.”

Serbia’s Rajevac has promised his team will go on the attack at the King’s Cup.

“In the games against Uzbekistan and the UAE, we played defensively because they are stronger than us. At the King’s Cup, we will become more entertaining,” he said.

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“We know that Thai fans want to see the team go on the attack.”

Rajevac is a coach with a defensive mindset because he is a former defender. It is unclear if he will change the tactics for his team at the King’s Cup because he so desires or is forced to do so by other factors.

However, with any tactics, the King’s Cup should remain on Thai soil.

While Thailand are behind North Korea, Burkina Faso and Belarus in the world rankings, visiting teams often send their B teams or even youth sides to compete in the King’s Cup.

On paper, Rajevac’s squad are stronger than the one against the UAE as the Serb has welcomed back several key players who missed the earlier match including striker Teerasil Dangda.

Rajevac is now popular here after the UAE match and some fans see him as a national hero who has turned Thailand into a much better side.

However, the odds change quickly in this business and he could become a villain if the Thais are not successful in the upcoming tournament.

The 63-year-old has only one option — win the King’s Cup.

Source: Bangkokpost


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