January 15 – UAE coach Alberto Zaccheroni was satisfied with his team’s 1-1 draw against Thailand, but says he expects his team to improve as the knockout stages loom. The hosts will now meet China or South Korea in the round of 16.
The host nation disappointed again with a tepid 1-1 draw against the War Elephants in their final group A game. The Emiratis have failed to inspire so far and in a drab second half they underwhelmed against a limited Thai side as the match trundled towards its end and qualification for both teams.
“We controlled all these three matches, better than any other team, but today I was expecting a better performance,” said Zaccheroni. “We scored the early goal, but after scoring the early goal we conceded the equaliser and we lost concentration. We didn’t take advantage of playing at home and [in front of] our fans. I know the fans are not happy with our performance and we aspire to perform better and do well in the coming stage, taking advantage of playing on home soil.”
The Italian coach says he hasn’t given his potential round of 16 opponents much thought and is focused on his own team. The UAE boss acknowledged that one win and two draws left plenty of room for improvement, but was coy on his team’s chances of deep run in the tournament.
“My only thinking is to improve the performance of my team, improve the playing style of my team,” said Zaccheroni. “Results are made by what you do on the field. We have drawn two games and won one. It is true that today I expected more. I was expecting a great performance today. Again my main concern is to develop and improve my team and to be stronger during the last 16.”
Thailand are in the next round for the first time since reaching the semi-finals in 1972 when they hosted the tournament and eventually went on to win the bronze medal. They overcame a disastrous 4-1 trashing in their opening game and a managerial sacking earlier in the tournament to bounce back.
“After the first game defeat against India things weren’t looking so well. When I came in I felt that things needed to change,” said Thailand coach Sirisak Yodyadthai. “I could see during the last two matches that the players were determined to do well, to do better and make a positive result for the Thai team. I am so grateful to make history for Thailand.”
Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1601330354labto1601330354ofdlr1601330354owedi1601330354sni@o1601330354fni1601330354