THAIS SEE MALAYSIA AS BIG THREAT
Coach says host team are biggest obstacle in their hope for third consecutive gold
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
Thailand’s Sea Games football team arriving at KLIA yesterday.