Bangkok: Thailand head coach Milovan Rajevac admitted Malaysia were worthy winners after a 2-2 draw saw them progress to the 2018 AFF Suzuki Cup final

The Serbian was disappointed that the War Elephants failed to improve significantly on their performance in the semi-final first leg’s goalless draw in Kuala Lumpur and he acknowledged that the hungrier team had won the tie.

“Of course, I’m not satisfied since we didn’t qualify for the final but it’s another experience for the players,” said Rajevac. “I want to congratulate the Malaysian team. They deserve to play in the final.

“In both matches, the Malaysian team definitely showed more determination and aggressiveness. They wanted to get to this final so much.”

Rajevac’s mind may have gone back to the 2010 World Cup finals when Thailand were given a penalty in added time. In South Africa eight years ago, his Ghana side were awarded a last-gasp penalty to give them a chance to reach the semi-final. 

On that occasion, Asamoah Gyan squandered the opportunity with the last kick of the ball against Uruguay before the African side lost in a penalty shootout. This time Adisak Kraisorn was the unlucky player whose miss cost Thailand a place in the AFF Suzuki Cup final.

“We had the penalty and didn’t convert it so we were a little unlucky in the end,” Rajevac said. “I was thinking about changing the penalty taker to someone who was a bit more fresh but we had an agreement before the match that Adisak would take them. It was unlucky for him that he missed but, of course, he has our support.”

Rajevac highlighted the fact that his side had exited the tournament without losing a game and stressed the need for fresh legs when the Thais begin their AFC Asian Cup campaign in January. 

“We have to go again as soon as possible and concentrate on the next competition, which is the Asian Cup,” he said. “We will have additional players who couldn’t play in this competition so we are concentrating on that now. 

“The players definitely need some rest after a long season and some players who played in the cup finals didn’t have a break at all. They need to refresh themselves physically and mentally before the biggest tournament in Asia.”