Friday, January 30, 2009

Thailand and Steve Darby are a busy combination

Australia wasn’t the only side to draw 0-0 in the Asian Cup on Wednesday.

Thailand, where former Tasmanian director of coaching, Steve Darby, is assistant coach to Peter Reid, also drew 0-0 in Bangkok with Australia’s old nemesis Iran, in their Group E match.

Iran leads the group, a point ahead of second-placed Singapore and two ahead of third-placed Thailand, which has drawn its two matches to date 0-0 - away to Jordan and at home to Iran.

“It was a great result against Iran last night,” said Darby.

“Ali Daei [the Iran coach] was not a happy man.

“We could have lost it on set-pieces, and we could have pinched it.

“Iran are an ageing side and I will be surprised if they qualify for the World Cup.

“We have two days off now and then it’s off to Japan.

“The lads and Peter and I are knackered, but the bonus was good for the draw last night.”

In their previous game, Thailand drew 0-0 away to Jordan in temperatures of minus one degree Celsius.

This is one of the attractions for Australia now that it is in the Asian Confederation - the different conditions and opponents to be faced.

I don’t know about you, but I find it far more exciting to follow our team in Asia than used to be the case when we were in the Oceania Confederation.

Thailand will play Saudi Arabia in Sendai, Japan, on Monday, in a friendly.

Saudi Arabia invited Thailand to play them in this practice match before the Saudi’s face Japan in a competitive match.

It’s a case of one nation helping another to prepare for an important match.

Perhaps Australia may receive such invitations in the future, but I doubt it.

Asian nations seem to be wary of facing Australia, and given the long distances that would be involved, and the fact that we would probably field our third-string side, it’s unlikely.

Darby said there were some great players in Thailand who would walk into the A-League.

As well as being coaching director in Tasmania, Darby coached and/or played for Devonport City, University, White Eagles and South Hobart.

Ali Daei rates Thailand as one of the best teams in South-East Asia.

Reid, Thailand's coach, has managed Manchester City and Sunderland in the past.

After leaving Tasmania, Darby was active in the NSL with Sydney Olympic, coached the Australian and Vietnam women's teams, and then coached in Singapore and Malaysia before recently being appointed as Reid's assistant with Thailand.

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