The War Elephants suffered a shock 1-2 loss to Malaysia in the their tournament opener, falling to a last-gasp stoppage-time winner last Saturday (May 7).
However, they came storming back in their second game as they thrashed Singapore 5-0 on Monday to get their campaign back on track.
The star of the show was midfielder Ben Davis, born in Phuket to a Thai mother and an English father, but who moved with his family to Singapore at age five before becoming a citizen four years later.
Davis represented Singapore up to Under-19 level but was embroiled in controversy after he defaulted on his national service commitments in 2018 upon being signed up by English football club Fulham. Shortly afterwards Davis decided to switch his nationality to Thailand. He currently plies his trade with English third-tier club Oxford United.
Singapore’s loss was Thailand’s gain as 21-year-old Davis won and scored a penalty on the stroke of half time to set up the second half goal fest.
An own-goal by Singapore’s Harhys Stewart shortly after the restart was followed by an Ekanit Panya brace and a Korawich Tasa strike in the 81st minute. The loss was Singapore’s heaviest in the SEA Games since losing 1-8 to Myanmar way back in 1971.
“This win is very important, because in the first round we made a mistake and lost,” Thailand manager Mano Polking said after the win. “We are back in this year’s SEA Games gold medal race.”
Thailand currently sit in third place in Group B on 3 points from 2 games, a point behind Singapore, who have played one extra game, and 3 behind group leaders Malaysia.
They are level with tomorrow’s opponents Cambodia on points but currently have a plus-two better goal difference.
Cambodia were shocked on Wednesday when they lost 0-1 to Singapore meaning the pressure and importance of tomorrow’s game against the War Elephants has been racheted up significantly.
Following the key game against Cambodia tomorrow, Thailand’s final game is against Laos on Monday.
Should they qualify successfully they will play in the semi-final at My Dinh National Stadium in Hanoi on Thursday (May 19). The final is scheduled for May 22.