Australia’s World Cup hopes wait on fate of Thai grief
AUSTRALIA could play their World Cup qualifier against Thailand on neutral territory if efforts fail to keep the match in Bangkok following the death of King Bhumibol, Football Federation Australia said yesterday.
The venue for the November 15 match has been in limbo since the world’s longest-reigning monarch died on October 13 at the age of 88 after years of ill health, plunging Thailand into mourning.
Bhumibol’s death prompted the Football Association of Thailand (FAT) to ask FFA if the match could be moved or postponed.
FFA chief executive David Gallop said there were encouraging signs the match would take place as planned, although Kuala Lumpur or Singapore were options.
“It does look encouraging,” Gallop told reporters. “We’re hopeful the game will now be locked into Bangkok.
“Talks between the government and the Thai football association we understand are happening today.
“Thai football fans will want to see their team play. Obviously our condolences to the family [of the king] and the whole country, but we’re hopeful the Socceroos match will go ahead now in Bangkok.”
Thailand has begun a year of mourning and the government has asked people to “refrain from festivities” for a 30day period, which ends just before the Socceroos are due to face Thailand.
Australia are currently second in Group B of final Asian qualifying for a place at Russia 2018, while Thailand have yet to earn a point after four games.