When old friends meet... 15 years on
Thailand will be playing their third game in eight days. They drew 2-2 with Australia in a World Cup qualifier last Tuesday, before last Saturday's 4-2 win over Indonesia. Thailand coach Kiatisuk Senamuang said he will be resting some players tonight.
Once upon a time, one was a Warrior and the other a King Cobra.
Unsurprisingly, battles in the S.League involving Kiatisuk Senamuang, then playing for SAFFC (nicknamed the Warriors) and V Sundramoorthy, synonymous with the Jurong FC Cobras, were feisty.
Fast forward 15 years, and Kiatisuk and Sundram are now in charge of their respective national teams.
Judging by their body language at the press conference at Manila's Novotel Araneta yesterday, it was clear that both still share a cordial friendship.
The duo were all smiles ahead of tonight's meeting in the Suzuki Cup Group A clash at the Philippine Sports Stadium, enjoying a friendly chat until the local press officer started proceedings.
There was plenty of mutual respect, too.
Kiatisuk, 43, said: "We want the three points, and we will try to play entertaining football.
"But Singapore have big, strong players, it's not easy to beat them.
"Anyway, it is always a tough game against them."
The man also known as "Zico" admitted that he would rest some of his starters, considering the match would be Thailand's third in eight days.
By then, Sundram had already expressed confidence in his side.
"We are up against the champions, so it's going to be a difficult game," said the 51-year-old.
"We respect the opponents but we don't fear them, and we will go out to battle for 90 minutes... (and) try to get the points."
The Lions kicked off their campaign on Saturday by clinging on to a 0-0 draw against Group A hosts Philippines, despite going a man down for almost an hour, while Thailand saw off Indonesia 4-2.
When Kiatisuk was asked if he had a plan to break down the Singapore defence, he turned to Sundram, who squinted and smiled.
Grinning, the Thai great answered: "I know him and he knows me... So let's see tomorrow."
- SAZALI ABDUL AZIZ