Thailand have fired coach Milovan Rajevac just hours after losing 4-1 to India in the opening game of the Asian Cup on Sunday in Abu Dhabi.
The Serbian, who led Ghana to the quarterfinal of the 2010 World Cup, cut a forlorn figure at the Al Nahyan Stadium and has been relieved with two games of Group A still to play. He will be replaced by assistant Sirisak Yodyathai, who will lead the team into crucial clashes against Bahrain and then hosts United Arab Emirates.
The Football Association of Thailand (FAT) president Somyot Poompanmoung released a statement Monday announcing the decision.
“It was not the playing format that Thai FA and the team supporters desired,” Somyot said. “I hereby announce the suspension of the contract with Milovan Rajevac as the coach of Thailand’s national team.”
The decision was not just based on the result of one game, as disappointing as that may have been with India running riot in the second half as the two teams went in at the break all square at 1-1.
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The 65 year-old, appointed in April 2017 to replace the popular Kiatisuk Senamuang, has been criticised for what have been seen as overly defensive tactics that do not suit a team based on attacking speed and technique.
After the India defeat, Rajevac suggested that he had moved away from his pragmatic principles.
“We have to improve a lot. Football is not just about technique, we have to be more aggressive, play for the result and not just for the beauty of football,” he said.
In December, the War Elephants failed to win a third successive AFF Suzuki Cup title, Southeast Asia’s biennial tournament. Thailand were eliminated at the semifinal stage by Malaysia and Rajevac was warned that Thailand’s target at the Asian Cup was a place in the knockout stage.