Thailand wary of Lions' set-pieces
War Elephants coach admits they must have 'full concentration' during dead-ball situations on Sunday
Thailand coach Milovan Rajevac admitted that he is wary of Singapore's set-piece threats ahead of the crunch Asean Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup Group B clash between the two teams in Bangkok on Sunday.
All but one of the Lions' goals in the 6-1 rout of Timor-Leste at the National Stadium on Wednesday originated from a dead-ball situation.
Rajevac told The New Paper via an interpreter: "Definitely, we have to be careful at set-pieces against Singapore.
"We didn't defend corners well (in the 4-2 win) against Indonesia and we started working on it after the match. I think we defended it better (during the 1-1 draw) against the Philippines.
"We watched Singapore's game with Timor-Leste and definitely our concentration levels have to be at their highest on set-pieces."
Rajevac - who coached Ghana at the 2010 World Cup, where they were a penalty shoot-out away from becoming the first African nation to reach the semi-finals - added that the Lions showed in their performances against Indonesia (1-0 win) and the Philippines (1-0 loss) that they are a "serious" threat.
He said: "We've watched many of their matches. Against the Philippines, they were, in some parts, the better team and maybe they were a bit unlucky with the goal (they conceded). They played a good match.
"Against Indonesia, they were dominating. We are taking Singapore seriously."
The 64-year-old Serb is also taking the goal threat of striker Ikhsan Fandi seriously, singling him and forward Faris Ramli out as the Lions' two most dangerous players.
Ikhsan scored twice against Timor-Leste, the second of which was a spectacular bicycle kick, while substitute Faris also found the net.
Said Rajevac: "The No. 10 (Faris) and the No. 20 (Ikhsan) are dangerous players. Especially the No. 20, he is a very bright prospect.
"But Singapore also play as a team, so we won't have any special assignments for any of their players."
Ikhsan is clearly gaining a reputation for himself, with former Thai midfield star Therdsak Chaiman also picking him out as the man to watch from the Lions pride, saying the 19-year-old "plays like his father".
The Chonburi assistant coach, 46, had played under Fandi at Warriors FC (then known as SAFFC) in 2002.
Therdsak told TNP: "Fandi's son is not bad, he plays like his father. He's physically good and strong in the box."
"But he is not as good as his father," he added with a laugh.
Despite missing foreign-based stars - Kawin Thamsatchanan, Chanathip Songkrasin, Teerasil Dangda and Theerathon Bunmathan - Therdsak believes Thailand remain the strongest team at the Suzuki Cup.
He singled out tournament top scorer Adisak Kraisorn (seven goals), attacking midfielder Sanrawat Dechmitr and box-to-box midfielder Pokklaw Anan as the War Elephants' key players.
"I think even without the overseas-based players, Thailand are still strong enough to win the Suzuki Cup," said Therdsak, who won the biennial tournament in 2000 and 2002, and was named the Most Valuable Player in 2002.
Thailand need just a draw against Singapore to book a semi-final berth, while the Lions need a win to ensure they qualify. Fandi's men will also progress with a draw if Indonesia beat the Philippines.
- Malaysia v Myanmar
- Vietnam v Cambodia
- Indonesia v Philippines
- Thailand v Singapore