The Thai team headed into Wednesday’s final round of Group D fixtures needing a win in Oman coupled with a Saudi loss to Australia to go through to the final qualifying round.
Although the Saudis ended up losing to a spectacular fightback by Australia, who scored three goals in four minutes after the break to secure a stunning 4-2 win, the Thais were unable to capitalise on the opportunity, going down tamely 2-0.
The 62-year-old German spoke of his pain at his players’ inability to make a decisive final push against opponents they beat 3-0 at home in September to book a berth in the last10 team stage.
But the veteran trainer’s cause was hindered by poor team preparations, with lowly Maldives seemingly a poor choice for tuneup opponents, and Thai players given little time to acclimatise to the desert conditions in Oman.
Schaefer, who has overseen a turnaround in Thai fortunes since succeeding the hapless Bryan Robson, said he was still struggling to come to terms with the team’s elimination.
”I still felt the pain of our elimination when I woke up this morning. The loss as well as the failure to help the team through is something hard to swallow. It’s quite frustrating as we had a chance to reach the next round.
”However, we were not ready for the game in many aspects. That’s why we were out of the tournament,” Schaefer told Thai reporters in Oman.
Pressed on whether he would continue in the job, the German said he needed more time to consider his position before making a decision.
”I can’t say at the moment that I will stay in the job until the end of the contract. There is interest from the Middle East. But, I have to honour my contract with Thailand. Mr Worawi [Makudi, Football Association of Thailand president] is also someone I have outmost respect for. He helps me in everything. I need at least four or five days before making the decision,” said Schaefer.
Soccer chief Worawi said the association would do everything to keep Schaefer, who has been lauded by the Thai media for his work ethic.
”Even though our team was unable to qualify for the next round, we are very pleased with Schaefer’s work. He has played a key role in transforming the team, while his devotion to the job is there for everyone to see.
”More importantly, he has earned the respect of the players. We will try to help him more with his job,” said Worawi.