Thailand primed for Finland , Both teams upbeat ahead of King's Cup (Bangkok Post) (23 Jan 2013 )



The coaches of Thailand and Finland were in equally confident moods yesterday ahead of today's clash between the two countries at the King's Cup in Chiang Mai.

The four-team tournament kicks off at the city's 700th Anniversary Stadium, with Thailand facing Finland after the opening game between Sweden and North Korea.

The winners of the two matches will meet in the final and the losers will play for third place with both games scheduled for Saturday.

Last year, Thailand lost all three of their games at the annual tournament but Worawi Makudi, the Football Association of Thailand president, has made it clear that he expects the team to reclaim the coveted trophy they last lifted in 2007.

Although Thailand's squad contains some players from the AFF Suzuki Cup squad, coach Winfried Schaefer intends to experiment with some new faces.

Influential midfielder Datsakorn Thonglao will captain the side but Schaefer's squad has been weakened by the withdrawal of eight players originally selected for the tournament.

Several key players are absent, including striker Teerasil Dangda, who is training with Spanish club Atletico Madrid, and goalkeeper Kawin Thamasatchanan.

Schaefer remained unfazed, though, and was yesterday looking forward to making a winning start.

"I will field the strongest side and I am confident that we can beat Finland," the coach said.

Although Schaefer said he did not mind players withdrawing from the King's Cup with genuine injuries, he took a thinly veiled swipe at Ratchaburi FC defender Prayad Boonya, who pulled out citing injury but then played for his club in a friendly tournament.

"For players who said they were injured but then went to play for their clubs, I will not select them to play for the national team again," Schaefer fumed.

"We should give these opportunities to players who feel proud to play for the national team."

Schaefer acknowledged that rotating his squad had become necessary after a busy schedule at the end of 2012 and with more challenges lying ahead at both club and international level.

"Some of our players are exhausted and need more rest," he said.

"It will not be fair for their clubs if we use them at the King's Cup."

Schaefer also indicated he would keep his key players fresh for their opening Asian Cup qualifying match, at home against Kuwait on Feb 6.

Finland coach Mixu Paatelainen was also confident of securing a win against Thailand but admitted his players were unaccustomed to the local conditions.

"I have the tactics to beat Thailand, especially using a long ball against the Thai defenders," he said."The main problem for our team is the weather but our players are experienced enough."

The match will be shown live on NBT 11 at 7pm with Sweden playing North Korea at 4pm.

PROBABLE THAILAND TEAM

Goalkeeper: Sinthaweechai Hathairattanakool

Defenders: Supachai Komsilp, Jetsada Jitsawad, Arthit Daosawang, Naruebodin Weerawattanodom

Midfielders: Arthit Sunthorphit, Adul Lasoh, Sumanya Purisay, Surachart Sareepim, Datsakorn Thonglao

Striker: Kirati Kaewsombut