National coach Kiatisak "Zico" Senamuang believed the early goal was the most important one in Thailand's 4-1 victory over Indonesia yesterday, which put the country in driving seat to qualify for the semifinals of the men's football competition in the 27th SEA Games in Myanmar.
The result meant Kiatisak's men, who were bidding to reclaim the title in the biennial tournament, collected maximum points from their opening two matches following last weekend's 3-1 win over Timor Leste.
A win over hosts Myanmar on Saturday would guarantee the Thais' place in the last four after suffering back-to-back group stage exits in the previous two editions in Laos and Indonesia respectively.
Against 2011 finalists Indonesia, the Thais, the most successful team in the tournament's history, could not have asked for a better start after Pokklaw Anan dispatched a low shot across the Indonesian goalkeeper into the bottom corner with just over a minute gone.
Kiatisak, who helped the country won four SEA Games titles during his stellar playing career, stated that Pokklaw's early strike made the task against the opponents, who beat them 3-1 two years ago, a lot easier.
"Every player was very determined against Indonesia as they all wanted to gain revenge from the defeat two years ago. It helped them played well. Things went our way after we managed to score early. It was a feisty match but the players restrained themselves very well. I have to give everyone a credit for that," said 40-year-old Kiatisak.