Thais aim to shoot down North Korea (February 28, 2007)

Thailand are aiming for three points against North Korea in their opening match of the first group stage of the Olympic qualifying round at Supachalasai stadium tonight. The match kicks off at 7pm and will be televised live on Channel 7.

The Thai Under-23 side are brimming with confidence after hammering Turkmenistan 6-1 on aggregate in a preliminary tie.

''We are ready for the match. Every player is looking forward to the match. We must beat North Korea on our home soil. If we fail to beat them, I don't think we will go to the Olympics,'' Thailand manager Kasem Jariyawatwong.

The other sides in Group E are Iraq and India with two teams advancing to the next round. North Korea and Iraq are favourites to progress past this stage.

Kasem said Thailand would play an attacking game with in-form strikers Teerathep ''Leesaw'' Winothai and Chakrit Buathong leading Thailand's strikeforce.

North Korea are stronger than Turkmenistan and Thailand must defend well against their aerial attacks, he warned.

Thailand coach Prapol Pongpanich said his players were in good shape and did not have injury worries.

North Korea are also at full strength and looking forward to getting a point, said their coach Ri Jong Man.

''It is difficult to beat Thailand on their home soil. Our players are struggling in hot weather here. We hope we can get a point,'' he said.

Tickets are 50 and 100 baht and available at the stadium.

Probable Thailand team

Chalermiat Sombatpan, Prat Samakrat, Noppol Pitafai, Kiatprawut Saiwaew, Jedtakorn Hemdang, Suthinan Pukhom, Anuwat Innyin, Jakkraphan Kaewprom, Teerasil Dangda, Teerathep Winothai and Chakrit Buathong