SEA Games final: Thailand are the underdog, says coach Polking

By Lam Dong   May 21, 2022 | 01:54 am PT
SEA Games final: Thailand are the underdog, says coach Polking
Coach Mano Polking at a press meet before the SEA Games men's football final between Thailand and Vietnam, May 21, 2022. Photo by VnExpress/Pham Chieu
Coach Mano Polking said Thailand do not have as many advantages as Vietnam in the SEA Games men's football final on Sunday, but they would not go down without a fight.

"It's not easy to play more than 120 minutes," Polking said at a Saturday press meet, referring to Thailand's semi-final match against Indonesia.

"Vietnam are in the same situation, so I believe that makes them equal," he said, adding that with both teams tired, he didn't think there would be any obvious advantage for either.

"Vietnam are the clear favorite for the game, not only because they have 40,000 passionate people helping and cheering and supporting them for 90 minutes... they have also the best preparations, they have all the players..."

"We are the underdog in this situation, but we are a good underdog. We'll put the fight in... but yeah it will be a very, very tough game for us," he said.

Thailand began SEA Games 31 with a 1-2 loss against Malaysia, but later won all their matches to enter the final for the 21st time. Polking said he hoped Thailand's offensive lineup would prove themselves against Vietnam's defense, who have never conceded a goal in this year's tournament.

"I believe the final will be more difficult because of the fans, the fans from Vietnam will help a lot... How can we cope with that pressure? How can we take that 40,000 people against us as our motivation to be confident enough to say that look, this is a game I wanna play. I am a football player because of games like that, and there I have to show that it doesn't matter how much pressure, you need to get that confidence and just play as hard as you can. Play your football," he said.

"Vietnam stopped the V-League for four months. They got all the best players from their squads together, enough fantastic training centers that they have here. Coach Park could choose any player from his first team, he chooses three of the best players, they have a good fighting spirit, they have 40,000 people... This is what we need to focus on now, how to overcome those difficulties now, how to hold that pressure and play good football."

Since the first SEA Games in 1959, Thailands men's football team have won 14 golds, four silvers and five bronzes.

The 31st SEA Games final between Vietnam and Thailand will start at 7 p.m. Sunday in Hanoi's My Dinh Stadium and will be reported live on VnExpress International.

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