Thailand tackle squad dilemma (October 10, 2007)

Thailand's preparations for their clash against Macau in the second leg of their World Cup qualifier has become chaotic due to Thailand Premier League fixtures. Thailand kicked off their 2010 World Cup campaign with a 6-1 win over Macau in the first leg of their preliminary round tie at Supachalasai on Monday.

The kingdom will meet Macau in the second leg next Monday and Thailand coach Chanvit Phalajivin said he won't be able to take seven BEC Tero Sasana players to the Chinese territory because of the domestic fixture pile-up.

There is a full Thailand Premier League programme today and BEC Tero also have to play TOT on Saturday. Thailand will leave for Macau on Friday and BEC Tero have refused to release their players.

The seven BEC Tero players are national team captain Tawan Sripan, Teerathep Winothai, Narongchai Vachiraban, Niweat Siriwong, Prat Samakrat, Pipat Tonkanya and Anon Sangsanoi.

''The seven players and TOT's Suchao Nutnum will not be travelling with us to Macau because they have to play in the Thailand Premier League on Saturday,'' Chanvit said.

The Football Association of Thailand (FAT) asked BEC Tero to re-schedule their match against TOT but BEC Tero insisted the match must go ahead because they have already struck a broadcasting deal.

The FAT also failed to persuade clubs to re-arrange their fixtures last Friday _ just three days before Thailand's first leg against Macau.

Chanvit said he not worried about the absences in the squad as Thailand will be carrying a five-goal advantage from the first leg to Macau.

''We scored six goals in the first leg and it is a big advantage so we can relax a bit in the second leg,'' Chanvit said.

''But I have told my players not to underestimate Macau. Anything can happen in football.''

Chanvit said that in the away leg Thailand would not just sit back to protect the huge lead but would go on the attack.

Forty-three member associations are vying for the 4.5 qualifying spots allocated to Asia. Thirty-eight of them are contesting round one, paired into 19 home-and-away series, with the top 11 earning a bye to round three and the next eight playing in round two.

The top five Asian seeds _ Australia, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Japan and Iran _ join in round three.


Round 1, first leg: Yemen 3 Maldives 1; Oman 2 Nepal 0; Lebanon 4 India 1; Palestine 0 Singapore 4; Vietnam 0 United Arab Emirates 1; Thailand 6 Macau 1; Bangladesh 1 Tajikistan 1; Syria 3 Afghanistan 0