In a Thailand side packed with attacking riches the team’s defensive capabilities are often overlooked but with just two goals conceded thus far at the 2016 AFF Suzuki Cup they’ve been equally as impressive at the back as they have been going forward.
One of the key players at the heart of that backline has been fullback/wingback Tristan Do, with the 23-year-old French born defender continuing to enhance his reputation as one of the region’s most promising young talents.
FOX Sports Asia caught up with the Muangthong man for an exclusive chat on the eve of Thailand’s semifinal, first-leg, encounter with Myanmar in Yangon where he touched on the team’s impressive start to tournament, their strong mentality and just who is the king of FIFA between him and his roommate, Charyl Chappuis.
We started though by reflecting on the tragedy that befell world football with the Chapecoense air crash in Colombia.
FSA: Tristan, thanks for speaking with Fox Sports Asia. We have to start on a sad note with the incident involving the Brazilian club Chapecoense in South America. Football is a large, unified, family so just how deeply did that impact you and the team?
TD: Of course it affects you because we are all the same all over the world; we all live as a group, we all take planes at least every week to play matches and we know that can happen to anybody.
Just as much though it’s like a lesson of life – life can go very fast and you never know if you have a tomorrow also.
FSA: Were you more concerned than usual when you had to fly to Myanmar for the semifinal?
TD: What can you do? You cannot prepare to die, it’s difficult, life is like that and you never know when things will happen and you just have to try every day to live your best.
FSA: Thailand have made a very impressive start to the defence of their regional title – have things gone pretty much to plan so far?
TD: That was the best we could have hoped for to take six points from the first two matches and then we targeted nine points and that’s what we did by using the whole squad. We have a talented group and we saw that everybody is capable of playing at this level so competition for starting spots is strong.
We knew that every game would be difficult though because the other teams knew us well and they played deep and compact and it’s difficult to play against those kinds of teams; they were all playing for a point or something against us and that was difficult.
FSA: Do you expect Myanmar to play the same way?
TD: I don’t know because we saw Myanmar play very strongly the match before against Malaysia and they have a young team that isn’t afraid of anything and I think they’ll come to play against us.
FSA: What is the spirit like within the camp and does the mentality change now with the home and away fixtures?
TD: Everybody is concentrated and focused on this task and we know what we’re here for.
In terms of the approach, it’s always difficult because it depends on how the first game is going to be – we need to be careful and defend first of all because if you draw the first game you have an advantage coming home so even if it finishes 0-0 it’s good for us but we will play as we usually play and that’s to win, for sure.
FSA: Is the pressure more on Thailand here as everybody expects you to win this tie and breeze into the final?
TD: We didn’t come with that mentality as we knew that every match was going to be difficult and that was how things were, so while a lot of people might say it’s going to be easy for us right from the beginning we didn’t have that attitude and we know how difficult this tournament is to win.
FSA: Personally, what’s the whole experience around the tournament been like?
TD: It’s been good, it’s my first Suzuki Cup but I’ve already played the SEA Games and the World Cup qualifiers and while that’s not the same it’s been good. We’ve played against all the teams we did here before so we know how things are here in Southeast Asia and they love football and there’s a lot of people in the stadium so we know how things are.
FSA: We hear that you’re rooming with Charyl Chappuis, what kind of things do you get up to in your downtime?
TD: He’s a good guy and we definitely spend a lot of time together playing FIFA. Sometimes I’ll bring my PlayStation and sometimes he will but this time I brought mine.
FSA: We have to ask then, which teams do you play and who’s the best?
TD: We play both national and club teams but I can take any team! When we play national teams I take Argentina and he takes Brazil, with clubs I’m Real Madrid and he’s Barcelona – ask him about FIFA, ask him who’s the best! Ask him, you will see!