Thailand gunning for right result (February 14, 2007)
Victory today would restore fans' faith
Thailand have to get a result against Turkmenistan in the return leg of an Olympic qualifying tie today to win back the faith of the fans, which was shattered by the national squad's failure to clinch the recent Asean Championship. The match takes place at Supachalasai stadium, which is expected to become a sea of red. Fans have been urged to don the colour to mirror Thailand's strip and to celebrate Valentine's Day.
The Thai Under-23 side hold a 1-0 advantage from the first leg in Ashgabat last week thanks to a 79th minute winner from Chakrit Buathong.
Although Thai officials are confident their side will progress to the group stage, they have warned the players against complacency.
''Although we have a one-goal advantage, we still have another match to go,'' said Thailand coach Prapol Pongpanich.
''It is like starting over again. We must not think about the previous score
''Our players are looking forward to the match and I think we will beat Turkmenistan in 90 minutes.''
The conditions at Supachalasai will suit Thailand better because the first match was played out in freezing temperatures.
However, Thailand manager Kasem Jariyawatwong said the visitors had nothing to lose so they may cause trouble for his team with an all-out attack.
He said Thailand would not sit back to protect their slim lead but would launch their own offence to keep Turkmenistan at bay.
Thailand have no injury worries and their only problem is who will partner star striker Teerathep ''Leesaw'' Winothai up front.
Chakrit, the Thai hero in the first leg, Teerasilp Dangda and Ronnachai Rangsiyo are all in the frame.
Both Prapol and Kasem urged Thai fans to turn out to support the Olympic side like they did for the full national squad in the return leg of the Asean Championship final against Singapore at the same stadium earlier this month.
In that game, Thailand were held to a 1-1 draw by Singapore for a 3-2 aggregate defeat after losing 2-1 in the island state in the first leg.
''These players are the future of our national team and we would like Thai fans to come and watch them,'' said Prapol.
Teerathep said he was fully fit and was raring to go. He expected that Thailand would create numerous scoring chances like they did in the first leg but warned the defence not to be careless.
Turkmenistan coach Rovshan Muhadov said his team had a poor result in the first leg and were determined to do better in Bangkok.
''I think we can beat Thailand if we can play to our best,'' he said.
''We are not worried about the hot weather. We have been here for three days and the players are okay,'' he said.
The match kicks off at 7pm. Tickets are on sale at the stadium today from 4 pm at 50 baht and 100 baht.
PROBABLE THAI TEAM
Chalermkiat Sombatpan, Prat Samakrat, Noppol Pitafai, Kiatprawut Saiwaew, Jedtakorn Hemdang, Suthinan Pukhom, Anuwat Inn-yin, Apipoo Suthornpanawet, Jakkraphan Kaewprom, Teerathep Winothai and Chakrit Buathong or Teerasilp Dangda or Ronnachai Rangsiyo.
The match will be shown live by Channel 7 starting from 7pm.