Thailand sack coach Milovan Rajevac after humbling at hands of India

Milovan Rajevac was given just one match at the Asian Cup before he got the axe. (AFP)
Updated 07 January 2019
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Thailand sack coach Milovan Rajevac after humbling at hands of India

  • Coach given marching orders after just one match in the UAE.
  • Thailand were favorites to beat India in their Group A clash.

ABU DHABI: Thailand have fired coach Milovan Rajevac following the side’s humiliating 4-1 thrashing by India in their opening Asian Cup game on Sunday.
The 65-year-old Serb, who took charge of Thailand in 2017, paid the price after the War Elephants conceded three second-half goals to slump to a shock defeat in Abu Dhabi.
Thai football chiefs took a dim view of their Group A flop and acted swiftly to remove Rajevac the morning after.
“The result is not what is expected of the Thai national team and that our supporters deserve,” Thailand’s FA president Somyot Poompanmoung said.
“Like all Thai football fans across the country, I am also disappointed with the result. But as president of the football association, I cannot stand still with this problem.”
Former assistant coach Sirisak Yodyardthai will assume control of the team when they face Bahrain and hosts UAE in their remaining Group A matches.
Rajevac, who has had spells in charge of Algeria and Qatar, famously steered Ghana to the quarterfinals of the 2010 World Cup where they were beaten on penalties by Uruguay.
But he was left shell-shocked by Thailand’s horror show against underdogs India, whose veteran striker Sunil Chhetri scored twice, overtaking Lionel Messi’s 65 international goals in the process.
Lamenting his side’s abject display, Rajevac admitted that India were worthy winners.
“They were phenomenal — they ran more, were more aggressive and wanted it more,” he said.
“They absolutely deserved to win. But we underperformed, especially in the second half.”
Rajevic has been criticized for his defensive style but the Serb clearly felt otherwise after watching Thailand over-run by a hungry India side.
“It’s not always about technical ability and skill on the ball,” he said. “We lacked power, strength and aggression. We need to put more pressure on the ball and show more passion.”
Thailand, appearing for the first time since co-hosting the Asian Cup in 2007, have now won just one of 21 games at the continent’s showcase competition.
India find themselves as unlikely leaders of Group A thanks to their first Asian Cup win in 55 years.
The Emiratis were held 1-1 by Bahrain in Saturday’s curtain-raiser.


Virat Kohli makes history with clean sweep of ICC awards

Updated 29 min 51 sec ago
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Virat Kohli makes history with clean sweep of ICC awards

  • India skipper win cricketer of the year, Test cricketer of the year and ODI cricketer of the year.
  • Kohli led India to their first ever series win in Australia earlier this year.

SYDNEY: India captain Virat Kohli said he was “very very happy” after becoming the first-ever player to clinch all three top honors, including cricketer of the year, in the International Cricket Council awards.
Kohli, who recently led India to their maiden Test and one-day series triumph in Australia, was also voted the Test and ODI men’s player of the year as the cricket’s world governing body announced its annual honors, chosen by former players and veteran journalists.
“It feels amazing. It’s a reward for all the hard work that you do throughout the calendar year. I feel really grateful and very, very happy with the team doing well at the same time myself performing,” Kohli said.
“Having recognition at the global level from the ICC is something you feel proud of as a cricketer because you understand that there are many players playing the game.”
The 30-year-old Kohli, who is married to Bollywood actress Anushka Sharma, has reached superstar status in cricket-mad India, after first coming into the limelight when he led the South Asian nation to victory in the 2008 Under-19 World Cup.
He was the top Test and ODI batsman in 2018, scoring 1,322 Test runs at an average of 55.08 — including five centuries — and 1,202 runs at 133.55 in ODIs, with six centuries.
He also scored 211 runs in 10 Twenty20 matches.
Kohli was picked to skipper the ICC Test and ODI teams of the year for the second year running.

PONTING’S FOOTSTEPS

Kohli became only the second player after Australian great Ricky Ponting to retain the prestigious Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy — given to the cricketer of the year.
He was the unanimous choice for the award, with South African fast bowler Kagiso Rabada coming second in both the cricketer of the year category and the Test player of the year.
“This is well deserved recognition for an extraordinary talent,” ICC chief executive David Richardson said of Kohli.
“His regard for the game and particularly for Test cricket is also recognized and appreciated. He is passionate in his support of the longest form of the game and its continued importance.”
Australia opener Aaron Finch won the T20 performance of the year award for the second time for his 172 — the highest-ever individual T20 score — against Zimbabwe in Harare last July.
India’s Rishabh Pant was named emerging player of the year, while Scotland batsman Callum MacLeod took home the associate cricketer of the year trophy.
The 21-year-old Pant became the first Indian wicketkeeper to score a Test century in England, and equalled the record for the most catches taken in a Test, with 11 in Adelaide in December.