Regain fans’ faith, War Elephants told

Thai football chief Somyot Poompunmuang (centre) enjoys a light moment with national team players Theerathon Bunmathan (left) and Chanathip Songkrasin.

Pol Gen Somyot Poompunmuang, president of the Football Association of Thailand (FAT), on Friday urged the national team players to do their best at the forthcoming AFC Asian Cup and regain the faith of disgruntled Thai fans.

Somyot addressed the players at the War Elephants’ training camp for the Asian championship, which is scheduled to take place from Jan 5-Feb 1 in the United Arab Emirates.

Thailand have been drawn in Group A for the first-round, round-robin competition with Bahrain, India and the host nation.

Somyot told the players that it was their “duty to bring back happiness to the Thai people” after their shock semi-final exit from the 2018 AFF Suzuki Cup, the regional football championship, at the hands of Malaysia this month.

“I have told the players that their mission at the Asian Cup won’t be easy at all,” Somyot told reporters at the training camp.

“It will be a tough task for the team and it’s not easy to live up to the high expectations of the demanding Thai football fans. Every player must be fully committed and willing to work hard.

“I believe that everyone in the camp is motivated to deliver some good results at the Asian Cup.”

Somyot added that FAT officials had been trying their best to look after the needs of the players and coaches, “so it is the responsibility of every member of the team now to perform like a true professional.”

Somyot explained yesterday that he had appointed Chile’s Julio Cesar Moreno, assistant coach of Serbia during the 2010 World Cup, as an analyst for the national team.

“He will analyse the games and players. I think he will be useful to the national team. Julio is a person who has analysed many international games. So I think this will be good for the national team, especially analysing the teams and players who will be playing against us.”

The FAT president also reiterated that under-fire national team coach Milovan Rajevac will be evaluated after the Asian Cup.

“Milovan Rajevac and his team of staff coaches have been given clear-cut directives,” he said.

“We expect the national team to reach the second round in the UAE — that will be even-par for the coaching staff. If the side goes any further in the tournament it will be considered as an achievement for them.

“These targets have been clearly specified in the coaching contract and Rajevac is aware of all these things.”

Somyot said he has been informed by Kawin Thamsatchanan’s mother that Thailand’s first-choice goalkeeper is fit now to join the national training camp.

“I will leave this matter to the coaches. I will take their word on Kawin’s fitness,” added Somyot.

The War Elephants will kick off their campaign on Jan 6 against India. Their next match will be against Bahrain on Jan 10 and the last will be against the UAE on Jan 14. The squad is scheduled to depart for the Asian Cup on Dec 30.

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