BANGKOK – Jose Maria Parzos Mendez fears his Thailand side will struggle to cope with the physicality of Australia in the quarter-final of the AFC Futsal Championship on Thursday.
The hosts qualified for the last eight as Group A winners, while Australia finished runners-up to Japan in Group B, and the teams now compete for a semi-final place at Nimibutr Stadium.
Thailand has a 100% record in the competition after three wins out of three in the preliminary round, but Mendez believes Australia is a real threat to his side’s bid for a FIFA Futsal World Cup berth.
“I don’t like the Australian team because it is very physical, the players are very big,” he said.
“Australia has competitive spirit and they have grown up a lot in the last few years.
“They have played in the last two World Cups I think and are an experienced group – they have played together many times.”
Thailand edged Kyrgyzstan 3-1 to claim the first qualifying place for the knockout stages, but Mendez admits his side have not achieved anything yet.
“We only need one more win to go to the World Cup, at the moment we get nothing,” Mendez added.
“It’s the same situation at the start, it’s the same situation as yesterday.
“If we lose on Thursday, we haven’t done nothing – if we win, then we go to the World Cup.”
Australia coach Scott Gilligan believes Thailand have improved beyond recognition in recent years but remains confident of success.
“Thailand have improved out of sight,” he said.
“They won’t be any different to Japan so we’ve got to be on our game but I think we can win, for sure.”
Australia squandered a two-goal lead to lose 4-2 to Japan on Tuesday, with Lachlan Wright and Christian Zeballos picking up their second yellow cards of the tournament.
The key duo will be suspended for the encounter with Thailand, while Fernando de Moraes is doubtful with a back complaint.
But despite the absentees, Gilligan is sure his troops are closing in on their target.
“We had the goal of winning the first two games and then to make it through to the semi-finals and we’ve got one game to do it,” said Gilligan.
“I know that while it will be difficult, we’ll be ready for it.
“We’ve played Thailand under my coaching three times, we’ve won one and lost two.”
Source : www.the-AFC.com
Published : 14/5/2008