Thailand coach Kiatisuk Senamuang has admitted that his side were not at their best in their 2018 World Cup qualifying match against Japan on Tuesday.
Playing on home soil, Thailand failed to impress in a 2-0 defeat against Samurai Blue, who came into the match on the back of a shock 2-1 loss to the United Arab Emirates.
Genki Haraguchi opened the scoring for Japan in the 18th minute before striker Takuma Asano added the finishing touches in the 75th minute.
Senamuang, though, admitted that the scoreline could have been a whole lot worse had it not been for goalkeeper Kawin Thamsatchanan, who made a plethora of impressive saves.
“The players tried to do their best and tried to fix our weaknesses (during the game) but Japan are a very strong team and every team that plays against Japan will have a tough game,” he said. “We have to admit we did not play our best game but also we did not concede much (more goals). We have to improve a lot both in defence and attack.
With midfielder Sarach Yooyen suspended, Senamuang included Charyl Chappuis in the starting line-up, but the 43-year-old admitted that the Swiss-born midfielder needs more time to acclimate himself to the national team after having spent 16 months on the sideline with a knee injury.
“Sarach Yooyen is a very important player for the team and is a defensive midfielder. Charyl Chappuis (his replacement) is naturally an attacking player. He did the best he could but he needs more time to get used to (the pace of a match) again.”
Following Tuesday’s defeat, Thailand currently sit at the bottom of the Group B standings and now face an uphill battle to qualify for the 2018 World Cup as only the top two teams progress, while the team that finishes third will advance to the fourth round of qualifying.
Senamuang acknowledged that the War Elephants are in the doldrums, but insisted that they have to move on and look to bounce back when they take on the United Arab Emirates on October 6.
“Every game for Thailand at this level is a hard game, there are no easy games for us,” he said. “We have to admit the standard is different (higher). These are our first steps and we will go forward from here. A 2-0 loss is not too harsh a result.”