Thailand take on Uzbeks (December 22, 2007)



Tor Chittinand


Hot-shot Sarayuth Chaikamdee and his new strike partner Pipop Onn-mo will lead the Thai attack against Uzbekistan in the opening match of the 38th King's Cup at Rajamangala National Stadium today.


The match kicks off at 5pm and will be televised live on Channel 7. In today's other game of the four-team tournament, Asian champions Iraq take on North Korea at 7.15pm.


Thailand coach Chanvit Phalajivin has recalled striker Pipop who had an impressive season in the Thailand Premier League with champions Chon Buri.


Chanvit said Pipop would team up with Sarayuth, dubbed "five-yard Joe" for his deadly close-range finishing, in Thailand's strikeforce against Uzbekistan.


"Pipop is given a chance to prove himself after having good performance in the Thailand Premier League," Chanvit said.


Three young strikers from the SEA Games winning side - Teerathep Winothai, Anon Sangsanoi and Teerasil Dangda - are also in the King's Cup squad.


However, Thailand will be without three key midfielders Tawan Sripan, Datsakorn Thonglao and Sutee Suksomkit. Tawan is nursing an injury while the other two have to play for their clubs overseas.


But Chanvit believes Thailand would not be affected by the absence of the trio saying other players can replace them.


The coach said it would not be easy for Thailand against Uzbekistan who are tall and physically strong, and good at counter-attacking.


The King's Cup is part of Thailand's preparations for the World Cup qualification and those who play well will be picked for the World Cup squad, Chanvit said.


"The King's Cup will be a good test for us before the World Cup qualification," he said.


Uzbekistan coach Rauf Inileev said Thailand were a good side and enjoyed home-field advantage but his team would try to beat them.


PROBABLE THAI TEAM


Goalkeeper: Kosin Hathairattanakul


Defenders: Apichate Puttan, Kiatprawut Saiwaew, Niweat Siriwong and Punnarat Klinsukon; Midfielders: Nirut Surasiang, Phichitpong Cheuichiew, Suchao Nutnum and Narongchai Vachiraban; Strikers: Sarayuth Chaikamdee and Pipop Onn-mo.


Tickets for the King's Cup are priced at 100, 200 and 500 baht and available on match day from 12 noon.