Football: Next World Cup too soon for Asean champions Thailand

Thailand football team players celebrate with the trophy after defeating Malaysia during their AFF Suzuki Cup 2014 second-leg Final football match at the Bukit Jalil Stadium in Kuala Lumpur on Dec 20, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
Thailand football team players celebrate with the trophy after defeating Malaysia during their AFF Suzuki Cup 2014 second-leg Final football match at the Bukit Jalil Stadium in Kuala Lumpur on Dec 20, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP

BANGKOK (REUTERS) - AFF Suzuki Cup-winning coach Kiatisuk Senamuang pleaded for patience from Thai fans, who have been left talking up their chances of a first World Cup Finals berth following their fourth South-east Asian title triumph.

The 4-3 aggregate win over Malaysia last week made him the first man to win the biennial championship as player and coach with his ability to forge a side of mainly under-23s to victory with an eye-catching style raising expectations.

Thailand missed out on qualification for next month's Asian Cup in Australia, leaving the 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign as the next major assignment for the team inspired by the talented trio of Kroekrit Thaweekarn (24 years), Chanathip Songkrasin (21) and Charyl Chappuis (22).

But former striker Kiatisuk, who has succeeded where many high-profile international names like Englishmen Bryan Robson and Peter Reid failed, wanted expectation quelled.

"We produced good performances, which means some fans now want to see us make it through to the World Cup Finals," he was quoted as saying by the Thai media on Wednesday. "I want to see that happen, too but we're not ready yet for the next World Cup. So please don't rush the team.

"Everything needs time. This squad has average age of 21-22 so they still need to gain more experience. And I don't want them to suffer more pressure. I believe in the next four to six years they will be much stronger."