| BANGKOK (16 May 2008) – Thailand national Futsal coach Jose Maria Parzos Mendez expressed delight after the hosts progressed to the semi-finals of the AFC Futsal Championship with a 5-2 defeat of Australia.
Eakapong Suratsawang and Panomkorn Saisorn each scored twice as Thailand booked their ticket to the last four – earning an automatic place to the FIFA Futsal World Cup later this year.
And Mendez admitted his satisfaction at the result after just two months in the coaching hotseat although the Spaniard was quick to warn against complacency with China next up in the last four.
“For me it’s very, very important to reach the World Cup because I only arrived here two months ago,” said Mendez.
“We have had a very short time to change many things with the players because the Thai mentality is very different to the Spanish mentality.
“We worked very, very hard.”
Thailand’s route to the semi-finals saw them pitted against Iraq, Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan and Australia – and overcoming that opposition has pleased Mendez greatly.
“We are very happy because we’ve not had an easy way,” he said.
“But China will not be easy – all semi-final teams are very good.”
Mendez had sympathy for Australia, who were without captain Lachlan Wright and Christopher Zeballos – the duo were suspended for the quarter-final match.
“Australia showed they are a very, very good team – it’s a shame there is not a place at the World Cup for both teams,” Mendez added.
“They showed today they are very strong and they were without two of their best players.”
The future for Australia coach Scott Gilligan is uncertain after the loss.
Gilligan believes the Australia FA may even relieve him of his position.
“I have been given a position with Oceania but I don’t know if the FFA will even retain me at this stage – I can’t answer that question,” said Gilligan.
“Obviously not going to the World Cup is very disappointing and that’s the issue.”
Gilligan was adamant the absences of Wright and Zeballos were the main contributing factors to the loss.
“I think the turning point was the game before when we had two suspended players,” he added.
“Both were the two leading goal scorers in the team for this tournament and it was pretty obvious that that was going to affect us.”