Dubai: Bahrain have admitted they will be desperately looking for full points to pile on more misery on Thailand as the two face each other in their second Group A encounter of the 2019 AFC Asian Cup at Al Nasr’s Maktoum Stadium on Thursday.
With the UAE-India encounter in Abu Dhabi taking centrestage later in the night, Bahrain are looking forward to secure the three points away from the limelight and keep themselves in the fray for a place in the knockout rounds.
Bahrain’s coach Miroslav Soukup from the Czech Republic had been pleased with his team’s 1-1 draw against hosts UAE in their competition opener last Saturday. Mohammad Al Rohaimi had appeared to put Bahrain on course for a sensational victory when he scored in the 78th minute, only for Ahmad Khalil to rescue a late point for the host nation when he equalised from the spot with two minutes remaining at the Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi.
Bahrain’s best has been a fourth place in 2004 and Soukup is keen to go better than that during this competition.
“In the first place we need to get the draw against the UAE out of our minds. Our preparations have been good and we are now looking to carry forward that momentum,” Soukup said.
“All our players have been in an upbeat mood and we are looking forward to all three points to stay in the hunt for a place in the next round.”
The Bahrain coach admitted his players had learnt their lesson following last Saturday’s split points. “We felt we were close to winning the UAE game. It was a very good result for us as we were up against a very strong team. Right now the atmosphere is not too positive in the changing room as know we missed out on a golden opportunity for three points. But I’ve been trying to get my players to keep their heads up. The good thing is that the players are ready and hungry to go all out and get the three points,” Soukup insisted.
“We are never satisfied with a draw. We never play for a draw, but there are other things like luck and mistakes that determine a result. These things happen in football and we need to accept these and move on.”
Perhaps, helping the Bahrain cause will be the sacking of Milovan Rajevac as coach following Thailand’s 4-1 loss to India in their opener last week. The Football Association of Thailand President Somyot Poompanmoung announced the Serbian’s dismissal via its official social media outlets while installing former assistant coach Sirisak Yodyardthai as the interim coach for Thursday’s encounter against Bahrain.
“I will try to change our tactics and techniques and the way we play and you will see some surprises in the team. Bahrain’s draw against the UAE is beneficial to us as we now have a chance to win and continue in this competition,” Somyot told media.
“Our aim now is to win and make our fans happy,” the stand-in coach promised.
Rajevac took charge of Thailand in 2017 after spells with both Qatar and Algeria. He also famously guided Ghana to the last eight of the 2010 Fifa World Cup in South Africa. Thailand is making the AFC Asian Cup for the first time in 12 years.