Trouble greets Thais in Manila

Coach Akira Nishino, left, speaks to his players during training.

A number of men’s football team coaches, including Thailand’s Akira Nishino, on Sunday lambasted the 2019 Philippines SEA Games organisers for their failure to provide adequate facilities.

Reports have also emerged that the venue for Thailand’s opening group stage game tomorrow with Indonesia — the Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila — is still undergoing repair works.

Thailand, seeking their fourth straight men’s football gold medal at the biennial tournament, are in Group B with Vietnam, Indonesia, Singapore, Laos and Brunei.

Nishino confirmed at a meet-the-press session for the Group B coaches that his team had issues with the food that was served to them.

“I would want the players to have a good environment and good perfect meal. I’m wishing the organisers can provide [that] for our team players,” he said.

“As of yesterday [Saturday], it’s not only us. Timor Leste too. It takes two hours [to travel between their hotel and the training field]. It’s not realistic, we could not make it by the time, so we had to manage to make training in the streets last night.”

Managers of teams from Cambodia, Myanmar and Timor Leste also made similar complaints.

The Japanese coach added that he “doesn’t want to use these issues as an excuse” and vowed to take the War Elephants past the first stage.

Indonesia coach Indra Sjafri said: “I am coaching a SEA Games team for the first time but we are here with high hopes. We have won this tournament once in 1991, so we can do it again.”

Meanwhile, the organising committee of the Games has allowed Thailand to call up a replacement for injured forward Ekanit Panya.

The War Elephants have brought in Kasetsart defender Peerawat Akkrathum to replace in-form Ekanit and the change was approved at the team managers’ meeting in Manila on Sunday.

Writer: Tor Chittinand                                                                                            Source: Bangkok Post