Thailand SEA Games boss 'trusts' players, no link to irregular activity
Thailand's Southeast Asian (SEA) Games winning head coach Worrawoot Srimakha insists that he has complete faith in the integrity of his players after claims of irregular betting patterns surfaced in the wake of last month's multi-sports festival in Kuala Lumpur.
The Straits Times reported this week that analysts from three bet-monitoring companies had suggested there was suspicious gambling behaviour in the matches between Thailand and Cambodia, Malaysia and Laos, and Vietnam and Cambodia.
But Worrawoot, whose Thailand U22 team defeated Malaysia 1-0 in the men's football final on Aug. 29, dismissed the possibility that his side were involved in any match-fixing activities.
"It was probably just an observation from foreign media," Worrawoot told the Bangkok Post. "But I can assure you that Thailand had nothing to do with it.
"While I can't speak for the other teams mentioned, on Thailand's part, I can honestly say that it is not true."
The War Elephants defeated Cambodia 3-0 in the group stage before advancing to the last four, and Worrawoot stressed that no fingers should be pointed at his players.
"Our target at the SEA Games was to win, and we aimed to win every game there, and to score as many goals as possible," Worrawoot said. "Besides, I trust my players would not do something like that."
It is not the first time the SEA Games have been placed under scrutiny. Timor-Leste's former technical director Orlando Marques Henriques recently received a life ban from football after being found guilty of agreeing to accept money to arrange for his side to lose against Malaysia in the 2015 tournament in Singapore.
It is not yet known if an official investigation will be launched as a result of the claims, but Worrawoot and Thailand have made their position very clear.
Bangkok-based Paul Murphy has lived in Asia for a decade, writing for ESPN FC since 2014. He is a former Daily Express sub-editor. @PaulMurphyBKK