The pressure was on as Thailand needed to recover from their disappointing opening day defeat against India as they faced Bahrain in the Al-Maktoum stadium. Football Tribe SEA Editor Gian Chansrichawla walks us through five things we learned from the War Elephants narrow and vital win.
Back Three is The Way Forward
After attempting to play Adisak Kraisorn and Supachai Jaided out wide in the opening match, caretaker coach Sirisak Yodyardthai shifted the side to a back three, allowing the width to come from rampaging wing-backs Tristan Do and Theerathon Bunmathan. Both players did brilliantly to stretch the field, giving Thailand a far more varied repertoire of approach play when compared to their performance against India.
Siwarak's Safe(r) Hands
Buriram United goalkeeper Siwarak Tedsungnoen found himself back in the starting lineup after counterpart Chatchai Budprom shipped four goals on matchday one against India. Despite being troubled on numerous occasions the 34-year-old veteran goalkeeper managed to save Thailand's skin on a couple of occasions, rarely ever flinching or fumbling when faced with Bahraini attacking pressure. While the goalkeeping situation is far from being solved, Thai fans can breathe a little easier after Siwarak's showing today.
Tristan Back On Form
After spending a year struggling for continuity at Muangthong, Tristan Do finally seemed to be back to his best. Playing as a wing-back, the Thai-French star was given the license to attack. His energy was a key feature in today's match, as he showed the fans once again why he deserves to be Thailand's number one down the right flank with an assist for Chanathip's goal.
Player Complaints Justified?
A large motivating factor behind Rajevac's sacking was the declining quality of football, which was seen as too defensive for the liking of Thailand's players. Having publicly criticized the coach for his defensive style, the side took a more expansive approach in this crucial encounter. Despite the three points, it remains to be seen whether or not this will truly be the new direction for the War Elephants.
Chanathip Holds Thailand's Hopes
Thailand's golden boy Chanathip Songkrasin wasted no time in showing Thai fans why he had been voted in the J-League team of the year last season, regularly getting into dangerous areas and taking on Bahraini defenders. The 25-year-old seemed as calm and collected as ever under the immense pressure, tucking away his chance with an excellent volley into the roof of the net. Amid the dire circumstances, the diminutive magician has afforded his country a chance to hope once again.