The whole of Thailand will be behind their footballers as they try and overturn a 2-1 deficit against Indonesia in the second leg of the AFF Suzuki Cup final on Saturday.
Not only has the 50,000-capacity Rajamangala Stadium been sold out, but the Football Association of Thailand (FAT) was forced to issue a statement denouncing overpriced ticket touting, offering a 10,000 baht reward for any information leading to the arrests of scalpers trying to take advantage of a desperate public trying to attend the all important decider.
While the War Elephants have clearly been the strongest outfit at the competition, they were caught on the backfoot by a spirited Indonesian performance in the first leg, and will now need a decisive response to ensure they walk away with the trophy for a record fifth time.
Speaking to Channel NewsAsia, Thai supporter Sumalee Thanadram said the first leg had left supporters a “little demoralised”, though there was still confidence in the ability of the players to turn things around.
“After regrouping, we are now more than excited and confident for this Saturday’s final,” she said. “I hope Thailand will bring home the win and I expect our team to do their best and put up a good match.”
Thana Wongmanee, editor of Goal.com Thailand, offered his thoughts, saying: “It will be dramatic for sure. This Cup has become something that if we win, it’s good but nothing over the moon – but if we don’t win now, it will be a catastrophe.
“I hope, and expect us to be champions, of course. After this, we get back to the World Cup qualifiers – to win the Suzuki Cup may gain the team just a little boost, but to lose can damage our confidence a lot. So nobody wants to lose.”
Even though the nation is currently in a year-long period of mourning following the passing of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, Bangkok Post sports reporter Tor Chittinand said this should not prevent fans from being in full voice in the stadium come Saturday.
“The Thai government has already allowed the FAT to continue football activities and they’ve arranged two matches already – the World Cup qualification round with Australia on Nov 15 and the semi-final match with Myanmar on Dec 8.
“So there’s no problem about this. But supporters have to wear suitably polite clothes for the match, like the blue jersey that the Thai team wears, or white or black dress,” he said.
In fact, said Thana, the current situation could provide added motivation to go out there and get the job done – echoing the words of coach Kiatisuk Senamuang.
“Right now things are more open-air; it’s not as sad as it was a couple of months ago. It’ll be like more of ‘do it for His Majesty’ than a mourning atmosphere.”