THAIS SEE MALAYSIA AS BIG THREAT

Coach says host team are big­gest ob­sta­cle in their hope for third con­sec­u­tive gold

New Straits Times - - Sport - AJIT­PAL SINGH ajit­pals­ingh@nst.com.my

THAI­LAND Un­der-22 coach Wor­ra­woot Sri­maka picked Malaysia as his team’s big­gest threat as they ar­rived in Kuala Lumpur yes­ter­day with an eye on win­ning the foot­ball gold medal for the third suc­ces­sive time in the Sea Games.

Thai­land, who are in Group B, are the most suc­cess­ful team in the bi­en­nial game hav­ing won the foot­ball ti­tle 15 times.

“We are here to win the gold medal. My play­ers gath­ered for a week for train­ing to pre­pare for the Sea Games. I have con­fi­dence in my team and I be­lieve we can re­tain our ti­tle,” said Wor­ra­woot at KLIA yes­ter­day.

“All teams in Group B are strong and they are ca­pa­ble of giv­ing us a tough time. We have stud­ied the strengths and weak­nesses of our op­po­nents, and I am sure they have also done theirs on Thai­land.”

Thai­land will open their Group B cam­paign against In­done­sia at Shah Alam Sta­dium on Tues­day, followed by Ti­morLeste (Thurs­day), Cam­bo­dia (Aug 20), the Philip­pines (Aug 22) and Viet­nam (Aug 24).

De­spite ham­mer­ing Malaysia 3-0 in the AFC Un­der-23 qual­i­fiers in Bangkok last month, Wor­ra­woot, who won two gold medals as a player in 1997 (In­done­sia) and 1999 (Brunei), said Ong Kim Swee’s side will prob­a­bly chal­lenge for the gold medal.

“When we played Malaysia last month, they were with­out some best play­ers. I ex­pect a tough time if we meet Malaysia in the semi-fi­nals or fi­nal.

“We are con­fi­dent of win­ning the ti­tle again, but Malaysia I be­lieve are also con­fi­dent in their own backyard. It will be an in­ter­est­ing tour­na­ment,” said Wor­ra­woot, who played for Ke­lan­tan in 200506.

The coach made one sur­pris­ing ex­clu­sion from his squad by drop­ping Buri­ram United’s Sup­pa­chok Sarachart. The 45-year-old deemed the striker un­fit de­spite the young­ster scor­ing seven goals in the Thai league.

“Sup­pa­chok has been im­pres­sive, but I’m not sure about his con­di­tion. I am con­cerned he may get in­jured again dur­ing the com­pe­ti­tion,” added Wor­ra­woot.

THE SQUAD — Goal­keeper: Anusith

Ter­mmee, Nont Muangngam;

De­fend­ers: Sar­ingkarn Prom­supa, Shin­naphat Lee Oh, Peer­awat Akkatham, Wo­rawut Namvech, Ratthanakorn Maikami, Kevin Deerom­ram, Suriya Sing­mui;

Mid­field­ers: Nop­pon Ponkum, Sasalak Haiprakhon, Wo­ra­chit Kan­it­srib­am­pen, Chaowat Veer­achat, Mon­tree Prom­sawat,Nat­tawut Som­bat­yotha, Phi­ti­wat Sukjit­tham­makul, Picha Au­tra, Chaiyawat Bu­ran;

Strik­ers: Chen­rop Sam­phaodi, Sit­ti­chok

Kan­noo.

LUQMAN HAKIM ZUBIR

Thai­land’s Sea Games foot­ball team ar­riv­ing at KLIA yes­ter­day.

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