Thailand ended the March international break with two wins from two, as Bordin Phala’s first half goal saw them defeat Suriname 1-0 at the BG Stadium on Sunday evening.
Head coach Mano Polking made eleven changes from the side which faced Nepal on Thursday, fielding a lineup more familiar to fans who followed the side’s recent AFF Cup triumph.
Veteran Siwarak Tedsungnoen started in goal, ahead of the ‘first choice’ back-line from the recent regional tournament – Narubadin Weerawatnodom, Manuel Bihr, Kritsada Kaman and Theerathon Bunmathan.
Thitipan Puangchan partnered Weerathep Pomphan in the center of midfield, with Bordin Phala, Supachok Sarachart, Ekanit Panya and Suphanat Mueanta ahead of them. The latter pair were making their first appearances since the end of the World Cup Qualifying campaign under the stewardship of Akira Nishino.
In fact, their inclusion wasn’t the only thing reminiscent of the side’s recent campaign in the United Arab Emirates. The front four’s shape and aggressive pressing was somewhat reminiscent of Nishino’s approach, and worked impressively well against their opponents on Sunday evening.
Thailand’s dominated proceedings during the first half, as they regularly won the ball in the opponent’s area and managed eight shots to the visitors’ two. The side played with an energy and intensity which belied the game’s status as a friendly, with players sprinting to close down the space immediately after losing the ball.
While the side’s off-ball work may make the coach most proud, it was a second of on-ball genius from Bordin Phala which ultimately settled the match. The Port winger cut in from the left onto his stronger right foot, before unleashing an excellent strike into the far corner. It was his second international goal, having netted his first in the AFF Cup group stage match against Singapore.
Thailand tailed off significantly in the second half, which is unsurprising given the intensity of their pressing from the early stages. The introduction of substitutes such as Philip Roller and Wisarut Imura did help keep things fresh, but the side looked considerably shakier and had to rely on Siwarak to make a couple of super saves to protect their lead.
Lastly, coach Polking handed yet another national team debut, this time to Nongbua Pitchaya playmaker Lursan Thiamrat, ensuring that every member of his 27-man squad was given game time during this international break.
The War Elephants’ coach will now turn his attention to the upcoming AFC Asian Cup qualifiers in June, which will see the side travel to Uzbekistan to take on the hosts, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives.