Thailand gunning for India victory (March 14, 2007)



Teerathep, Teerasil to spearhead attack

TOR CHITTINAND

Thailand's Under-23 side need a win over India in a crucial Olympic qualifying match in Chennai today (kick-off 7pm Thai time) to keep alive their hopes of securing a berth for the 2008 Games. The Thais suffered a huge setback when they lost 1-0 to North Korea in their opening Group F game of the Asian qualifiers in Bangkok two weeks ago.


Iraq, semi-finalists at the 2004 Athens Olympics and runners-up at the 2006 Asian Games, are on top of the group after hammering India 3-0 in Jordan.


The top two teams from each group advance to the next stage with North Korea and Iraq favourites in Group F.


''If we want to progress to the next round, we have to get three points,'' manager Kasem Jariyawatwong said. ''India will also have to try to beat us or they are likely to be out of contention. I'm still confident that we will win.''


Knowing that a victory is the only option, Thailand will try to attack from the start with Teerathep ''Leesaw'' Winothai and Teerasil Dangda leading the Thai attack in a 3-5-2 formation.


Coach Prapol Pongpanich said Thailand and India were in a must-win situation after both teams were beaten in their opening games.


''I have told my players to keep moving and passing the ball to create as many chances as possible. I have also told them to avoid committing foul near our goal or in the area,'' said the Thai coach.


''In a sense, we are underdogs. We will be under pressure from the crowd.''


Kasem and Prapol said Thailand must not underestimate India although they are considered the weakest team in this group. Despite their 3-0 defeat to Iraq in the first match, they held the Iraqis 0-0 at half-time.


Before the Thais left for India, it was feared that they could be weakened by the weather which is hotter than that in Thailand. But Prapol said this would not be a problem as his players were strong enough and had trained in hot conditions.


Kasem said he was more worried about the food and had told his players to avoid local cuisine they are not familiar with.


PROBABLE THAILAND LINE-UP


Chalermkiat Sombatpan, Prat Samakrat, Kiatprawut Saiwaew, Suthinan Pukhom, Noppol Pitafai, Jetsadaporn Hemdang, Jakkraphan Kaewprom, Anuwat Innyin, Warut Wongdee, Teerathep Winothai and Teerasil Dangda