Disappointed Thais expect coach Phalajivin's exit

February 4, 2007

BANGKOK, February 4 (Asean Football Championship) - Thailand's disappointment at finishing runners-up to defending champions Singapore in the final of the Asean Football Championship has been compounded by the likelihood that head coach Chanvit Phalajivin will leave the 2007 AFC Asian Cup co-hosts for Vietnamese league side Dong Thap.

'I have yet to see the final contract and there may be some small things that I might not agree with, but if the contract looks good, I will go,' Chanvit remarked following Thailand's 1-1 draw with Singapore in the second leg of the final, which saw the Lions emerge 3-2 aggregate winners.

'It is his own decision but if he does leave then we will just have to find another coach,' said Thailand team manager Thavatchai Sajkul of Chanvit, who took helm of the national team in early 2005 from German Sigfried Held after the Thais failed to get beyond the group stage of the last Asean Football Championship.

Meanwhile Singapore coach Radojko Avramovic hailed the stunning strike from substitute Khairul Amri which earned the Lions the draw and the trophy as well as taking the Serb's unbeaten run in the tournament to 15 matches.

'Amri scored a beautiful goal,' Avramovic said of the 81st minute swerving shot that many initially thought had taken a deflection.

'The goal was one of the best I have seen and one deserving to win the final of a championship.'

The Young Lions forward, who came on for Nigeria-born winger Itimi Dickson 10 minutes into the second half, levelled the absorbing match on the night, cancelling out a 37th minute goal from Pipat Thonkanya which saw the Thais make the aggregate score 2-2 after losing 2-1 in the first leg in Singapore.

'The finalists were the two best teams in South East Asia and I think it was a very good game,' continued Avramovic.

'In the first half the Thais were really trying to make a difference and pushed players forward trying to win the game.

'We coped well until they scored and then we struggled, although we came out in the second half looking for the goal and missed a few opportunities.'

Despite leading Singapore to their second successive Asean Football Championship title, the island republic's third in total following victory in 1998, Avramovic felt the task could have been completed less stressfully had Indonesian referee Jimmy Napitupulu not ruled out an eighth minute effort from Shahril Ishak.

'We had an early goal disallowed and it was 100 per cent not offside,' said the former Notts County keeper, who was full of praise after his team insured the trophy returned to the Lion city.

'I have to congratulate all the boys as they played fantastic,' he said.

'We needed to score a goal tonight and we did it. I said to the players before the competition that it is a lot harder to keep the title than to win it but we did it.'