Timor-Leste take on defending Champions Thailand in tomorrow’s highlight Group B encounter at the AFF Suzuki Cup 2018.
But the story surrounding this game is less about the actual ninety minutes, and more about the news of Timor-Leste not having a home ground in their native land.
The minnows did brilliantly to qualify for the tournament in the first place, but do not have a home ground in good enough condition to host matches in the high-profile competition. So, as a result, the tiny nation have been offered asylum by Thailand at their impressive Rajamanagala Stadium in Bangkok.
So when it was announced that the two Southeast Asian sides would be taking each other on in their first matches of the tournament, there was bound to be some news. Thailand will technically be playing at a familiar ground as an away team tomorrow, with this particular game deemed to be a home leg for Timor-Leste.
And if Thailand head coach Milovan Rajevac is to be believed, he is happy to let his opponents use the facilities in Bangkok.
“We have a good preparation for the AFF Suzuki Cup after long period of team training, we know that Timor-Leste have some issue with their own stadium and ground, so we have to say thank you for them to choose Bangkok as their home game,” Rajevac mentioned.
“We respect them and we will play with our best team tomorrow and hope we can get a good result,” the coach added.
Rajevac was all praise for Timor-Leste during the press conference and was given similar treatment by his counterpart in Norio Tsukitate.
“As our home game, we will think that tomorrow in Rajamangala is our home, we do respect that Thailand is strongest team but for me and my young player of Timor-Leste, we hope we can do some surprise in Bangkok tomorrow,” Tsukitate remarked.
Furthermore, he said: “We have no pressure taking on Thailand. On the other hand, we are glad to play against them. They are defending champions, they won the title many times, and of course they are considered to be the best in Southeast Asia.”
“However, I’m surprised that Thailand won’t have their four main players who play abroad in the squad. Also, I’m very disappointed that I won’t have a chance to meet Chanathip Songkrasin.”
Timor-Leste defender Jorge Sabas Victor echoed his manager’s sentiments, saying: “We are well prepared. Thailand is a good team, we don’t know what will happen tomorrow but we are ready for it. After completing the Asian Games and a friendly match against Cambodia, we are more confident and we believe that good things will happen to us tomorrow.”
“I believe Thailand are still strong, although they don’t have those four players (Chanathip Songkrasin, Teerasil Dangda, Kawin Thamsatchanan, Theerathon Bunmathan) in their team. They are the title holders and still look dangerous like always.”
The two managers may be as friendly as it gets off the pitch, but will be ready to battle it out on the touchline in the big game tomorrow.