Defending champions Thailand will be looking to get their 2016 AFF Suzuki Cup campaign off to a great start when they take on Indonesia on Saturday.
Thailand went unbeaten throughout the in the 2014 AFF Suzuki Cup, but were made to work hard for their fourth title as they beat Malaysia 4-3 on aggregate.
While the War Elephants are determined to retain their crown and win the tournament for a record-breaking fifth time, head coach Kiatisuk Senamuang has urged his side to first concentrate on getting past the group stage.
“Statistics are in the past, we are looking at the present,” he said. “Every team is strong, we would prefer to only focus on our team. We want to be champions but we will focus on the group stage first.”
Kiatisuk also admitted that he is concerned his players may be fatigued going into the match as they took on Australia in a World Cup qualification match that ended as a 2-2 draw in Bangkok on Tuesday.
“We just played in the World Cup qualifiers. Some players played the whole match and they are tired,” he said.
Indonesia, meanwhile, will be looking for a better showing this time around after they failed to make it out of the group stage in the last edition of the tournament.
Beating Thailand will definitely be no easy feat, but Indonesia have tasted success in the competition before as they were the runners-up on four separate occasions, three of which came in succession between 2000 and 2004.
Despite Kiatisuk’s comments about his team being tired following their gruelling World Cup qualification clash with Australia, Indonesia coach Alfred Riedl has warned his side not to let their guard down.
“I don’t believe Thailand will be tired because they are all professionals,” he added.