A Letter to Thailand Football Fan
I admit that I have underestimated Thailand’s progress. What I really mean is I know about their dominance in Southeast Asia, from the AFF U-16 Youth Championship, up to the U-19 Youth Championship, the SEA
I admit that I have underestimated Thailand’s progress. What I really mean is I know about their dominance in Southeast Asia, from the AFF U-16 Youth Championship, up to the U-19 Youth Championship, the SEA Games gold medal by the U-23 and now the senior team playing in the World Cup Qualifying Asian Final, I just didn’t expect that the gap between their Southeast Asian football would actually close up that fast with the Middle Eastern football.
Their performance against Saudi Arabia showed all.
3 times Asian Cup Champion and Asia’s representative in the FIFA World Cup for 4 times, Saudi Arabia has got the football flair and history which would make any of their Asian opponent shiver. I have watched how the Saudis played since the mid-nineties and even though their standard has already been on the decline, they remain one of the bests in Asia. So watching how the Thais took the game to the Saudis last evening, and nearly went off with a respectable draw or a possible victory, the thought of their progress which was running through my mind was scary.
For those who have watched the game, you couldn’t disagree with me that the Thai was not totally outplayed. Like I have mentioned, I have underestimated Thailand’s progress and I am expecting a more dominating play from the host nation. However, what I have seen was a very solid attacking & confident play put in by the Thais. Honestly, how I wish my country could play the style of football which Thailand is playing.
On my various social media, I could sense that most of my Thai friends were upset with the result from last evening. Some of them even criticized the Referee from China for the defeat. True enough, some of the calls he made during the game were indeed questionable and I agree that the penalty given against the Thais was a soft call.
Playing in the World Cup Qualifying Asian Final Round is very different from playing in the AFF Suzuki Cup, or even AFC Asian Cup. Obviously, everybody dream of playing in the World Cup hence the pride and emotion invested into achieving that qualification is huge and heavy. And naturally, both the fans and players will feel upset, frustrated and even furious.
During the game, I saw some nasty tackles, unwanted swing of fists and witnessed obvious foul faking. Fingers might be directed at the man in black but perhaps this is the time where the Thailand fans, or perhaps all of us, Southeast Asian football fans have to come to realize what’s the real competitive football is about. We have to accept the fact that football at this level is going to be a more aggressive and physical demanding game. This is the real game now. As we move forward, it is going to get worst.
With great respect to Thailand, it will not be a disgrace even if they are to lose most of their games taking into consideration this (Asian Final Round) is the furthest they have ever advanced. Now that the Thais have learnt how the real game is to be played at this level, I am confident that we will see a much more prepared and stronger Thailand in the subsequent games to come.