Thailand's World Cup quest in balance (March 26, 2008)

Oman hurdle must be cleared tonight


Thailand need a win over Oman at Rajamangala stadium tonight to get their World Cup qualifying campaign back on track after a humiliating start. The match kicks off at 6.30pm and will be televised live on Channel 7.

Thailand were demolished 4-1 by Japan last month in Group B opener, a result that threatens their hopes of becoming one of the two teams to progress to Asia's final qualifying stages for the 2010 World Cup.

Midfielder Datsakorn Thonglao is available after suspension. He will team up with captain Tawan Sripan, Sutee Suksomkit and Nirut Surasiang in midfield.

Thailand coach Chanvit Phalajivin said his men would attack from the start with young stars Teerasil and Teerathep Winothai leading the strikeforce.

Although Thailand will enjoy home-field advantage, Chanvit said his players and home supporters should not underestimate Oman whose players are tall and strong.

But Chanvit has seen weakness in Oman's defence and is confident that his team will win and stay in contention in the campaign.

Manager Kittiratt Na Ranong is also brimming with confidence that he vows to quit if Thailand fail to get all three points.

Thailand defeated Oman 2-0 in their last meeting at the 2007 Asian Cup at Rajamangala stadium and will receive one million baht in bonus if they can repeat the feat.

Oman manager Rashid Jabir Al Yafai said his team would have Ali Al Habsi, of English Premiership side Bolton Wanderers, in goal.

He said the match was crucial for both sides and Oman would try to get a result to keep alive their hopes of progressing to the next round.

Tickets at 100, 200 and 500 baht are available at the stadium from 2.30 pm.

Goalkeeper: Kosin Hathairattanakool
Defenders: Patiparn Phetphun, Nataporn Phanrit, Punnarat Klinsukon and Suree Sukha
Midfielders: Datsakorn Thonglao, Nirut Surasiang, Sutee Suksomkit and Tawan Sripan
Strikers: Teerasil Dangda and Teerathep Winothai