Moment of truth for Thailand tonight (December 09, 2006)

Side face hosts Qatar in quarter-finals


Doha, Qatar _ Thailand's football team play their most important match in several years tonight when they take on Asian Games hosts Qatar in the tournament's quarter-final in Doha. The kick off at Al Gharrafa stadium has been moved back to 11pm (Thai time) as it will attract more television viewers in the Middle East at that time and also give fans more chance to go to the stadium.

Although Qatar are 78th in the Fifa world rankings compared to Thailand's 108th, the Thai squad believe they can beat the host nation.

Head coach Charnwit Phalajivin said his team had a 50-50 chance of winning. ''Qatar will be under more pressure than us as their fans will be expecting them to win,'' he said. ''Whatever happens I'm sure it will be an exciting game.''

Charnwit said the key players in the Qatar team are Uruguayan striker Sebastian Quintana and the two midfielders, Abdulrahman Hussain Yaser and Ibrahim Khalfan Al Khalfan.

''Our midfielders Datsakorn Thonglao and Hadtaporn Suwan must not give these players any room,'' he said.

He said it was important not to let the Qatari players get into the penalty area. ''We must not commit fouls in or around the area or we will be in trouble,'' he said.

Charnwit said all the players had been practising taking penalty kicks in the event of a stalemate. ''But of course it depends on the individual player's confidence on the night,'' he said.

He said it was a blow that Suchao Nutnum would probably not play because of injury. ''We will move Ekaphan Inthasen to the right side while Anon Sangsanoi will team up with striker Teerathep Winothai.''

The match between Uzbekistan and Iraq will precede the Thailand-Qatar showdown.

The other two quarter finals taking place at Al Rayyan Stadium will see China play Iran while South Korea meet North Korea.

Probable Thai team

Kosin Hathairattanakool, Prat Samakrat, Kiatprawut Saiwaeo, Suree Sukha Natthaphong Samana, Datasakorn Thonglao, Hadtaporn Suwan, Anon Sangsanoi, Sutee Suksomkit, Teerathep Winothai and Ekaphan Inthasen.

Meanwhile, in the women's football competition, Thailand outplayd Jordan 5-0 in their last match on Thursday and avoided finishing bottom.

The Thai team played attractive football and fully deserved their victory after two hard games against China and Japan.

In tomorrow's semi-finals, Japan will meet South Korea while China take on North Korea.