The War Elephants conceded a late equaliser to share the spoils with the Philippines in their third and penultimate group stage game after Supachai Chaided had put them ahead soon after the break on Wednesday night (Nov 21).
Thailand, seeking a hat-trick of the Southeast Asian football championship titles, now need to avoid a loss to former winners Singapore in their last round-robin phase match at Bangkok’s Rajamangala National Stadium.
The Azkals are away against already-eliminated Indonesia in Jakarta, also on Sunday.
The race for the two semi-final spots is down to three teams with Thailand, the Philippines and Singapore all in contention heading into the final day of the group stage.
With Thailand and the Philippines at seven points and Singapore at six, a draw for the top two teams will be enough to send them through to the next round.
“Our primary target is to be the top of the group,” said Rajevac. “We are positive about this and we can do this at home when we play Singapore.”
The Serbian coach claimed that the 1-1 draw against the Sven-Goran Eriksson-trained Azkals at the wet and slick Panaad Stadium in Bacolod City was a fair result.
“I think we were controlling the match and we were very unlucky in that situation [conceding] the goal,” said Rajevac. “It was very tough match as I expected. It was a competitive match. It was a very good set-up by Mr Eriksson and I think the result is realistic.”
Rajevac added that their focus is now on rest and recovery as they look ahead to the duel with Singapore, who last lifted the title in 2012 at the expense of the Thais.
“There’s a match every four days and we're trying to recover the team and rest them properly,” said Rajevac.
“It was a tiring game for the players. We’ll have to check on their fitness again when we get back to Thailand.
“We will try to bring back their fitness as quickly as possible before the game with Singapore. Our target is still the same. We have to do our best.”
Eriksson said the home side were the better team, adding, “We need to continue to play like this and if we can confirm our place in the semi-finals, that will be good for the future of the team.
“I think we played well throughout the match and for me we were the better team as we created more opportunities. We could have won it but I’m very happy with the performance of the team. I think they did well against a very good side.”
Meanwhile Thailand playmaker Sanrawat Dechmitr said, “The situation of the team is still OK. I am hoping that for the game in Bangkok, the Thai fans will come and support us as we try to reach the semi-finals.”
Supachai said, “I will try to do better in the future games as I wasn’t able to help the team much in the first half.
“The game with Singapore is an important one. I think we have more potential than the Singapore team plus we will be playing at our home ground. I am confident we’ll qualify for the semi-finals.”
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