Thailand wary of Myanmar's midfield dynamism in SEA Games final

Thailand's Narubadin Weerawatnodom and Choketawee Promrut are confident of retaining their Southeast Asian (SEA) Games football gold medal but are wary of Myanmar's high intensity game.

The two countries will go head-to-head in the SEA Games final at the Sports Hub in Singapore on Monday night, with the Thais hoping to defend the title they won at the last edition in Myanmar. But Kyi Lwin's side are seeking to end their fairytale run on a high.

Myanmar stunned hot favourites Vietnam in the semifinals with a 2-1 victory while the junior War Elephants romped to a 5-0 win over Indonesia.

Two goals from Rungrat Phumichantuk were aided by further strikes from Thitiphan Puangjan, Chanathip Songkrasin and Narubadin to cap off a superb performance by the Thais.

Having scored 21 goals and conceding one on their way to the final, Thailand seem unstoppable in their quest to continue their dominance in ASEAN football.

However, head coach Choketawee refuted predictions that it will be a stroll in the park for the reigning champions.

"Yes, 21 goals very good for the result but every game, we just need three points," said the 40-year-old. "Myanmar are very strong. They run a lot and 90 minutes, they will never stop. They now also have confidence from their results so we will talk to our players and make sure they understand this final is not easy for us. We must work hard, do our homework and focus."

"Yes, this game (against Indonesia) we scored five goals, but I think we were very lucky too. But having said that, when you are given space on the field and you create the chances, you must take it and score. And that is what we did."

Echoing his coach's philosophy of not underestimating their opponents is right-back Narubadin. He has had a sensational tournament with two goals while fulfilling his defensive duties.

"I'm happy with my (performances) so far but I'm not finished yet." Narubadin told ESPN FC. "I may have scored a goal (against Indonesia) but I must continue to push and improve, cannot think I'm good already.

"As for Myanmar, I'm confident about winning in the final but we must give 200% and not think Myanmar is easy.

"I have played against Myanmar before last year [in the AFF Suzuki Cup] and they have many good players. One player that is especially dangerous is their midfielder and captain (Nay Lin Tun) and the left-back (Aung Si Thu).

"He (Lin Tun) is very good on the ball so we must keep him away from box and not give too many free kicks because he can shoot them very well."

At just 20 years of age, Narubadin is already a Suzuki Cup champion and SEA Games gold medalist. But he is adamant that his achievements are down to the people who have given him chances and the supporters who have believed in him.

He added: "I must thank the fans and everybody who supports me. And also, I must thank the Thai people (back at) home for supporting me. Against Indonesia was all about giving back to my country and now, the promise that we made to reach the (SEA Games) final is done. I hope we can make our country more happy (by being the) winning champion in the final."

Narubadin will likely be joined in defence by BEC Tero Sasana's Adison Promrak, Artit Daoswang and Peerapat Notechaiya as the starting back four for the War Elephants.

Having won the Suzuki Cup and SEA Games gold medal in the past two years, some believe that Thailand should be aiming higher. But the interim coach -- Choketawee is with the U23 side in Singapore due to Kiatisuk Senamuang's involvement with the senior team in the World Cup -- refused to deviate from the goal in sight.

He declared: "We can dream but we must work hard. This group has been together for two years now and our (immediate) target is the SEA Games first, and then I hope more of these players will make it to the national team and fight each other to represent the country."

Tickets to the 55,000 seater stadium were sold out within hours on Sunday morning. With a full house of blue and white fans, it promises to be a great advertisement for Southeast Asian football.