Time for action (July 07, 2007)

Thailand kick off tournament tonight with match against Iraq


Thailand have promised to go on the attack during the Asian Cup curtain-raiser against Iraq at Rajamangala stadium tonight.

The Thai team completed their preparations for the tournament last night with a light training session at the Thai-Japan stadium.

Now, with all the groundwork completed, coach Chanvit Phalajivin said he was looking forward to getting the competition underway at 7.35pm this evening.

"I am confident that we will score goals against Iraq," said Chanvit.

"We will use many different methods of attack and will try to make Iraq play the game the way we want it to be played."

Despite high expectations from home fans, Chanvit said there was no real pressure on his team.

"We always play better when we are considered the underdogs, because there's no pressure," he said.

"We hope we can surprise a few people and we are looking to get through to the second round.

"We must get three points from this match and if we perform well then the two remaining matches will be easy for us."

Thailand play Oman on Thursday and finish off their group matches with a game against favourites Australia on Monday, July 16.

First they must get past Iraq, who were runners-up at the Asian Games.

Captain Tawan Sripan, arguably one of the most talented players to come out of Thailand in recent years, said the team were aware of the high expectations of their supporters.

"We are carrying the pride of Thailand," he said.

"Our objective is to go as far as possible. The squad we have is a good combination of highly-skilled players and young players.

"Everyone has confidence.

"We are not nervous and all of us believe we can do well in the tournament."

Newly-appointed Iraq coach Jorvan Vieira said his side also harbours dreams of winning the competition.

"We're not here just to take part, we're here to win it," said the veteran Brazilian coach, who was appointed as the head coach of Iraq two months ago.

"We feel ready for the first game, even though we are going to play the hosts.

"They're at home, which will make them feel more comfortable, but that's not a problem for us.

"They'll have thousands of spectators behind them but I have an experienced squad and we're ready.

"We know the weight of the competition and we're not afraid."

Channel 7 televise tonight's match live.

The gates will open at 4pm and there will be an opening ceremony from 6pm.

Tickets are available at the stadium priced 150, 250, 500 and 800 baht. PROBABLE THAI SQUAD

Goalkeeper: Kosin Hathairattnakool

Defenders: Suree Sukha, Niweat Siriwong, Jetsada Jitsawad and Nattaporn Phanrit

Midfielders: Nirut Surasiang, Datsakorn Thonglao, Therdsak Chaiman and Tawan Sripan

Strikers: Kiatisak 'Zico' Senamuang and Sutee Suksomkit