NEWS ARCHIVES 1999

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Brazil will defend Cup title 24/12/99
Atop Brazilian selection will defend their title in the King's Cup football tournament next year in Bangkok together with Morocco and Finland.

According to the secretary general of the Football Association of Thailand, Mr Worawi Makudi, Brazil would bring a strong team to defend their title.

He said Morocco and Finland would field their national squads who are full of excellent players.

The King's Cup will be held February 20-26.

Mr Worawi said "I want the King's Cup tournament to be one of the greatest tournaments in Asia."He said it was important for Thailand's national squad to play against top class teams as that was the only way they would improve.

Mr Worawi said that Uruguay have requested a match against Thailand and it was likely to be played on December 19th.

He also confirmed that the German national team will come to play Thailand on December 14 as part of their Asian tour.

Kiatisak still looking for elusive goal 17/12/99

Thailand's Kiatisak "Zico" Senamuang is still looking for his first goal as Huddersfield reserves lost 2-1 against Burnley at Turf Moor in the Pontin's League on Wednesday night.

Once again the Thai player showed some neat touches but failed to find the back of the net.

In the first half he had a fine 25 yard shot well saved by the Burnley goalkeeper while another effort struck the defenders and was cleared.

Kiatisak was eventually substituted in the 60th minute with Burnley leading 1-0.

Huddersfield's reserves don't have another match until they take on Manchester City at The McAlpine on January 5.

After the match Kiatisak said he was proud to have been chosen for the Asian All Stars team to play Iran on December 20th but he probably would not be able to participate because of his commitments to Huddersfield.

Under the agreement with Huddersfield he is only allowed to play for Thailand in the SEA Games, Asian Games, Asian Cup and World Cup.

Air Force crowned champions after thrashing BBC 12/12/99

Win 10-0 to triumph on goal difference

Tor Chittinand
Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) thrashed bottom-placed Distar-BBC 10-0 at the Hockey Stadium yesterday to win the Caltex Premier League on goal difference from three other clubs, Port Authority, BEC Tero, and Osotsapha.

RTAF, the 1997 Premier League champions, went into the match knowing they needed to beat Distar-BBC by at least seven goals to overhaul Port's superior goal difference.

Distar were ripe for the slaughter having lost 19 of their first 21 matches with the other two being drawn.

It took RTAF just six minutes to open their account through captain Songserm Maperm after a fine pass from Sunai Jaidee. Ten minutes later, Songserm got the second and there were further goals before half-time from Atsawa Singthong (21st), Kanwee Thongsiew (29th) and Worawit Tavornwan (45th).

Despite the 5-0 half-time lead, RTAF head coach Piyapong Pue-Onn was angry with his players for not taking enough chances.

The sixth goal came 45 seconds into the second half when Worawit scored with a 30-metre shot. In the 51st minute Worawit completed his hat-trick with a header which made it 7-0.

Ten minutes later, RTAF got the crucial eighth goal when Distar's Pakkapolchanan Ratsamee scored in his own net.

Songserm then completed his hat-trick and Worawit completed the rout with his fourth goal in the 80th minute.

"It was an amazing result in that we scored 10 goals," said Piyapong.

"We have been preparing for this last match for a long time. We won a lot of possession and so Distar could not control the game at all.

"I told my players they had to score as many goals as possible.

"We are very happy to finish as league champions."In the other matches, Port Authority defeated former champions Sinthana 5-2 at the Army Stadium.

A 5-0 win would have been enough to clinch the title for Port but the two goals scored by Sinthana proved crucial with RTAF scoring 10.

At the Bangkok Bank venue, the hosts lost 1-0 to the Telephone Organisation of Thailand (TOT).

BEC Tero beat Royal Thai Army (RTA) 3-2., BMA edged Krung Thai Bank 1-0 and Osotsapha defeated Thai Farmers Bank 3-1.

RTAF win two million baht as champions while runners-up Port receive one million baht.

Distar-BBC are relegated to the first division next year while the Army will play off against the second-placed team in the first division to decide whether they survive in the Premier League.

STANDINGSPWDL FA PtsAir Force 2211 65 43 27 39Port 2212 3731 16 39BEC Tero 22 1165 352339Osotsapha 221093 32 21 39TOT 2211 5 6 26 20 38TFB 228 8 6373132Sinthana 22 9 3 10 30 30 30Bangkok Bank 2277 8 22 21 28BMA 22 7510 242826Krung Thai 22 510 728 32 25Army 227 411 25 30 25Distar BBC 2202 20 11 65 2

Kiatisak gets work permit  09/12/99

Thai striker Kiatisak "Zico" Senamuang has received his work permit from the Labour Ministry in England which means he is eligible to play for Huddersfield first team, according to reports from McAlpine Stadium.

Kiatisak was scheduled to play for Huddersfield reserves against Scunthorpe reserves yesterday afternoon and was hoping to make a good impression on Huddersfield boss Steve Bruce.

Huddersfield play Liverpool in the third round of the FA Cup on Sunday but it is unlikely that Kiatisak will be named in the squad.

The match will be shown live on UBC's Supersport at 9 p.m. while Channel 7 will show a tape at 12.30 a.m.

Channel 3 will televise live the Euro 2000 draw at 9 p.m. Sunday.

Zico set for another outing  08/12/99

Thai striker Kiatisak "Zico" Senamuang has another chance to show what he can do when he plays for Huddersfield reserves tonight against Scunthorpe in the Pontins League.

After a promising showing in his opening match against Preston reserves last week, Kiatisak will be keen to follow it up with another sound performance to catch the eye of Huddersfield manager Steve Bruce.

Huddersfield are flying high at the top of the first division and take on Liverpool on Sunday in an eagerly awaited third round FA Cup tie.

With tough competition from the in-form Huddersfield strikers, Kiatisak is not expected to be in the FA Cup squad but if he can score in tonight's match he could be knocking on the door.

Talking to reporters at the Thai Chalida restaurant on Monday before his regular training session, Kiatisak said he was confident he would eventually make the first team.

"I must prove I am worth it by putting in an outstanding performance for the reserves," he said. "I am adapting quite well and am playing up to 90 per cent of my best.

"I know fans in Thailand are eager to see me playing for the first team and I will do my utmost to achieve that. I shall not fail. Huddersfield Town are a strong team."He apologised to fans for not answering e-mails and letters saying he had to concentrate on his football.

Meanwhile, Doug Thompson of the Huddersfield Daily Examiner said Kiatisak faces a tough task of getting into the team with the strikers Clyde Wijnhard and Marcus Stewart playing so well. He said Kiatisak would probably have to wait until one of them gets injured before he gets his opportunity.

Thailand's prospects look good 08/12/99

Possible threat from Lebanon

Thailand have a great opportunity to to progress to the second qualifying round of the World Cup after being drawn in the same group as Lebanon, Sri Lanka and Pakistan in yesterday's draw in Tokyo.

Seeded top in Group 5, Thailand managed to avoid any of the heavyweights in Asian football. South Korea and Japan were not in the draw because they are hosting the event.

Of the teams Thailand will face, Lebanon are expected to be the toughest although there is little known about their true capabilities.

Sri Lanka and Pakistan are both better known for their cricketing ability rather than footballing prowess and should not be a major problem for Thailand who have shown improved form in the last year under English coach Peter Withe.

Withe is currently in England but is expected to be reasonably happy with the draw.

Saudi Arabia, currently ranked by Fifa as Asia's top team, were handed a comfortable looking start to their qualifying campaign.

The Saudis, who reached the second round of USA 94 and also qualified for France 98, should be able to breeze past Vietnam, Bangladesh and Mongolia.

But their Czech coach Milan Macala warned that the long trips involved in the ties could complicate the task of topping the group and progressing to the second round.

"Each country has a good team and every country has the same chance, same possibility, because you play one game at home and one game away sometimes in difficult conditions."But he confessed: "It is not a bad group."Asian Games champions Iran face a tougher task in Group 2, which includes former Soviet republic Tajikstan, as well as minnows Burma and Guam.

Group six is likely to be the toughest in Asia with Iraq obliged to battle another former Soviet republic, Kazakhstan.

The draw could also have been kinder to China, who have high hopes of qualifying for their first ever World Cup.

Indonesia, who join the Chinese in group nine, are one of the stronger second-ranked Asian teams. The other group members are Cambodia, who were recently dumped out of the Asian Cup by Indonesia, and the Maldives.

India are also in with a shout of advancing. They stand 43 below the United Arab Emirates, the top seeds in their group, in the latest Fifa rankings.

Group One looks the most open of the ten Asian groups. It has Oman, Syria, Laos and the Philippines.

Group three, with Qatar, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Palestine, also looks tight but the Qataris will be confident of advancing after only narrowly missing out on a playoff spot for France 1998.

Shunichiro Okano, president of the Japanese football association, said the Asian groups were well balanced.

"There are many groups in Asia and it will be very difficult in the second round.

"I'm grateful that Japan are spared the qualifiers but now we have to build up a team compatible with or stronger than the powerhouses of the world.

CALTEX PREMIER LEAGUE: Fancied teams stay in the hunt 2/12/99

FOUR teams, PAT, RTAF, Tero Sassana and Osotspa, collected 36 points at the end of their penultimate matches yesterday to stand an equal chance of capturing this year's Caltex Premier League crown.

Three matches were contested at different venues yesterday. Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF), who were fifth in the standing, yesterday took on Telephones Organisation of Thailand (TOT), lying fourth, at the Dhupatemiya Stadium. TOT dominated the game throughout, but could not break the deadlock. Sunai Jaidee scored the lone goal for RTAF in the 53rd minute, firing a free-kick from 20 metres into the TOT net.

At the Port Authority of Thailand (PAT) Stadium, Apisit Khaikaew drew first blood for hosts PAT in the 71st minute, but Suthee Suksomkij scored the equaliser for Thai Farmers Bank (TFB) just four minutes later. The match ended 1-1.

Competing at the Mahanakorn University of Technology Stadium, hot favourites BEC Tero Sassana recovered from a one-goal deficit against Bangkok Metropolitan in the 45th minute to even the score in the 75th minute. Bangkok Metropolitan scored through Thorn Soraphume, while Jatupong Thongsuk found the equaliser for Tero Sassana.

Standing

Teams P W D L F A Pts

PAT 21 11 3 7 26 14 36

Tero Sassana 21 10 6 5 31 21 36

Osotspa 21 9 9 3 29 20 36

RTAF 21 10 6 5 33 27 36

TOT 21 10 5 6 25 20 35

TFB 20 8 8 4 35 25 32

Sinthana 21 9 8 2 28 25 30

Bangkok Bank 20 6 7 7 19 19 25

Krung Thai 21 5 10 6 28 31 25

RTA 21 7 4 10 23 27 25

Bangkok 21 6 5 10 23 27 23

Distar BBC 21 0 2 19 11 51 2

BY KOMKRIT NAPALAI

The Nation

FA wants to see Zico's record 25/11/99

Tor Chittinand

The English Football Association (FA) have asked their Thai counterparts to urgently fax details of the career of Kiatisak "Zico" Senamuang.

They reportedly need the details for the work permit Zico needs if he is to play for Huddersfield Town in the English first division.

Secretary general of the FAT, Mr Worawi Makudi said the English FA just want details about Zico's international career to confirm his credentials.

Mr Worawi said he thought there would be no problem.

Huddersfield missed a chance of going top of division one Tuesday night when they lost 2-0 at Walsall.

Sir Bobby's confident  23/11/99

ENGLAND has been widely criticised for spending an enormous amount of money on its World Cup 2006 bid campaign, but Sir Bobby Charlton is optimistic it will not be in vain.

''If we don't try, we'll not win anything,'' Sir Bobby told The Nation yesterday. ''And I think we will win because we have the best bid.''

With a big budget of 9.4 million pounds (about Bt590 million), England has shown the most enthusiasm, showering the international soccer community with loads of information about their readiness. It has also lent a helping hand to many developing countries and initiated many projects to impress Fifa member nations.

Among these programmes is an English invitation to 12 Thai children, and an equal number from each of the Fifa affiliated nations, to attend the 2006 World Cup -- if England hosts it.

And Sir Bobby himself yesterday devoted his time to teach football and meet children at the Human Developing Centre at Khlong Toei, which is the part of the Welcome to the World project.

''Young people are tomorrow's players, coaches, supporters and administrators. That is why we have made young people and the future of the game such an important part of our bid for the World Cup,'' Sir Bobby said.

''The next step could be for young Thai footballers to come to England and to spend time at the training academies of our clubs -- academies which are now producing the next generation of our Michael Owens and David Beckhams.''

Sir Bobby opposed Fifa's idea that it should be the African countries' turn to host the World Cup, saying: ''They will have chances to host it one day. Since the World Cup is a very big event now. I think they shouldn't hold the World Cup when they are not ready.''

Asked about Thailand's bid for hosting the 2008 Olympics, Sir Bobby said: ''I know it will be tough. For the World Cup, there are 24 Fifa members to impress. But for the Games, there are more than 90 members to vote.''

Money for the England 2006 campaign comes from three sources: the Sport Council, 20 English premier league clubs and the Football Association. But for Thailand's Games bid, the big part will come from the government's allocation alone.

However, Sir Bobby was encouraging, saying: ''Why not go for it? It's sure going to be a big step for Thailand.''

 BY WARARAK VORAVIDTHAYAKOM

The Nation

Delighted Kiatisak off to Huddersfield 18/11/99

Will fly to England Saturday morning

Yvonne Bohwongprasert
Thailand's national football captain Kiatisak Senamuang will be joining English first division club Huddersfield Town at the weekend, it was announced yesterday.

The talented 26-year-old striker will be flying to England early on Saturday morning, officials from Huddersfield and his present club Rajpracha confirmed.

The news was first made public in Hong Kong by Huddersfield's public relations officer Dale Tempest. "Assuming everything goes well, we'll be hoping that he can play in our reserve team on December 1 against Preston North End. It depends how he adapts to the frozen north,." he told ReutersNicknamed "Zico" after the former Brazilian star, Kiatisak was recommended to Huddersfield by Premiership club Middlesbrough who gave him a trial earlier this year. Huddersfield, managed by former Manchester United star Steve Bruce, are enjoying a very successful season and are currently placed third in the league.

Last night an overjoyed Kiatisak told the Bangkok Post he was really looking forward to the challenge of playing for Huddersfield. He said he was already brushing up on his English although he said the language barrier shouldn't be too much of a problem as he knew most of the football terms already.

" I am really excited and have been training very hard," he said. "I know that it is going to be very cold there so I am taking a lot of different medicine with me. As for the food, I know it is going to be hard, but I think I will have to get used to English food."He stressed that he would be giving his very best in every performance.

" I am very thankful to my fan club for supporting me throughout these years. I promise them that I will not let them down,." he said. He will sign the contract on November 22.

Kiatisak confirmed he would be on a weekly wage of 1,000 (about 63,000 baht) with extra money if he plays first-team matches.

He will also set up his own website-www.zicothailand.com-starting December 1 for anyone who wants to keep up with his progress.

President of Rajpracha, Pol Maj-Gen Chetchandra Pravitra said he was very pleased for Kiatisak. "I am very happy that finally all the issues have been ironed out," he said.

Negotiations had been going on for two months and Rajpracha had come under fire from some sections of the Thai press for the slow progress.

M.R. Chetchandra explained that there had been a lot of documents to sort out and there was some problem arranging a visa. He said the Thai media didn't realise that it was much more complicated to transfer a Thai player to England than to loan one to a Southeast Asian country.

He said Rajpracha would deeply miss Kiatisak even though he spent most of his time tied up with the national team.

He also advised him to prepare himself for a different lifestyle in England.

"Playing in England will be very different from his stint with the Malaysian football club Perlis, " he said. "In Thailand he has people assisting him all the time. In England he will have to be more independent."

Wednesday, November 17, 11:18am London Time
Thai captain to join Huddersfield

HONG KONG, Nov 17 (Reuters) - Thailand captain Kiatisuk Senamuang is to join English first division Huddersfield Town, a club official said on Wednesday.

Kiatisuk, a 26-year-old striker, will leave Bangkok for England on Thursday or Friday, Huddersfield media officer Dale Tempest said.

"Assuming everything goes well, we'll be hoping that he can play in our reserve team on December 1 against Preston North End. It depends how he adapts to the frozen north."

Known in his homeland as Zico, after the celebrated former Brazil striker, Kiatisuk came to Huddersfield's attention this year after a failed trial at Middlesbrough.

Kiatisak cleared to play 11/11/99

Tor Chittinand

Thailand's top striker Kiatisak "Zico" Senamuang is set to play for English First Division club Huddersfield Town following the clearing up of paperwork with the Football Association of Thailand yesterday.

Secretary general of the FAT, Worawi Makudi, said Kiatisak was free to play in England. The striker has already had to give up his job in the Thai police force.

All that is left now is the final paperwork between Kiatisak's current team, Rajpracha, and Huddersfield.

It is believed Kiatisak will be paid 1,000 (roughly 65,000 baht) per week with 500 extra for each match he plays.

Kiatisak set to leave for Huddersfield 6/11/99

Thailand's top striker Kiatisak "Zico" Senamuang's dream of playing in England looks like coming true as he is ready to leave later this month to play for English First Division club Huddersfield, according to Pol Maj Gen Chetchandra Pravitra, president of Rajpracha.

Pol Maj Gen Chetchandra said everything is set and the transfer papers have been received from Huddersfield, currently third in the First Division.

He added that once a few small details have been finalised, Kiatisak will be able to go and play in England.

But Kiatisak will have to ask permission from the Police Department, where he works.

If all goes smoothly, Zico will be the first Thai play to perform in England and he will be paid 1,000 (Bt63,000) a week

SOCCER UNDER-17 WORLD CUP: Fit Thais need good tactics 2/11/99

NATIONAL under-17 team head coach Somchart Yimsiri said yesterday that Thailand's Fifa World Championship-bound players were all fit, but he was still concerned about the squad's poor tactics and technique.

Thailand, who are Asian champions, left yesterday for New Zealand to take part in the world juniors final from Nov 10 to 27.

The team was seen off at the airport by Vijit Getkaew, president of the Football Association of Thailand, and Deputy Communications Minister and team manager Sonthaya Khunpluem.

Somchart said: ''It's a world-class tournament and we had to make sure our players are best-prepared for the challenge.

''As far as I know, our players, when compared with the other teams, are fit both physically and mentally. But when it comes to technique, we are still inexperienced. However, I'm optimistic that our determination and confidence will lead us to success.''

The head coach said he will use Thailand's warm-up games against New Zealand tomorrow and Paraguay the following day to assess the team's weak points and try to correct them before the start of the championship.

..........................

* Meawnhile, Shanghai informed the Football Association of Thailand that they would not be able to field the senior squad at the Queen's Cup due to a tight schedule at home.

They offered to send their under-21 team, the newly-crowned junior champions in China, instead, but this was turned down by the organisers who claimed that the deadline for such a confirmation lapsed on Sunday.

Four beaten teams in the qualifying round -- Rajpracha, Bangkok Bank, Krung Thai and Police -- were invited to play in a knockout play-off, but Krung Thai Bank declined and gave Rajpracha a walkover.

Somchai Han-iang scored the lone goal for Bangkok Bank in the 67th minute to give them a victory over Police yesterday. They will next meet Rajpracha on either Nov 9 or Nov 11. The winners will replace Shanghai at the Queen's Cup finals.

Eight teams have already booked their places in the finals from Nov 18 to 28. They are Thai Farmers Bank (defending champions), Royal Thai Army (hosts), Hanyang (South Korea), Royal Thai Air Force, Royal Thai Navy, Telephone Organisation of Thailand, Osotspa and another team from China.

BY KOMKRIT NAPALAI

The Nation

THAILAND UNDER-17Tough task ahead for youngsters  19/10/99 Tor Chittinand

Thailand's Under-17 team will be sent to the Fifa Under-17 World Championship next month in New Zealand.

Team manager Sonthaya Khunpluem, Deputy Minister of Communications and Transportation, said: "We are in the same group as Mexico, Ghana and Spain and so it will be a very tough assignment.

"But I am confident the players will do well and I would like to see this team become the future national team.

"I hope we can reach the second round, which is the quarter-finals. The staff coaches say the players are training hard."

Head coach Suchart Yimsiri said: "The only thing that I am worried about is the lack of international experience of our players and I hope they can handle playing in front of decent crowds."

Thailand will open with a match against Mexico on November 11. They will play Spain on November 13 and Ghana on November 16.

DRAW

(To be played from November 10 to 27)

Group A: New Zealand, US, Uruguay, Poland (Auckland)

Group B: Ghana, Spain, Mexico, Thailand (Napier)

Group C: Brazil, Australia or Bahrain, Mali, Germany (Christchurch)

Group D: Jamaica, Burkina Faso, Paraguay, Qatar (Dunedin)

PROBABLE THAI SQUAD

Intarat Apinyakul, Suree Suka, Sophon Nimpolkrang, Kraikriet Beardtaku, Jakrapong Jiesatawong, Wasant Sangphan, Kittikul Suwannatrai, Songsak Chaisamak, Sureeya Amatawet, Teerathep Vinothai, Nattapol Waewsingto, Nattaporn Phanrit, Udorn Pimpak, Preecha Pinpradap, Sakda Jermdee, Pichitpong Chelchiew, Praiwet Wanna, Kosin Hatairattanakul.

Thawatchai Singapore bound  11/10/99

THAILAND'S Asian and SEA Games star Thawatchai Damrong-ongtrakul yesterday signed a deal with Singapore League side Sembawang that guarantees him a Bt80,000 monthly income.

A representative of the Singapore club had flown in to see Thawatchai in action during a Caltex Premier League game on Saturday and offer the midfielder a contract. Thawatchai plays for Osotspa.

While Thawatchai agreed to all terms of the contract, he refused to join Sembawang next week and make his debut for the club on Oct 23 when the Singapore Cup matches kick-off.

The Nation

Club willing to lend Zico a helping hand 24/9/99

RAJPRACHA Sports Club's manager Col ML Supridee Pravitra said yesterday he has no intention of spoiling Kiertisak Senamuang's plans to play professionally in England, but that the star striker's problem is that ''he does not know how to settle the deal with an invisible agent''.

''We are very happy to support him in his bid to play in England. Everything has been prepared, but, sadly, we've not been contacted at all by [second division] Huddersfield,'' ML Supridee said.

''We know nothing about the Huddersfield's decision. Lately, what we have learnt from the media is that the English club has agreed to increase his wage from PDS 600 per week to PDS 1,000 per week plus a PDS 500 bonus for each match he plays.

''We have not received any contract from Huddersfield. There hasn't been even a telephone call from the club. How can we sign the contract if we haven't even seen it.

''We know that he is the national hero. We respect his plans. We will be blamed, if we don't help him fulfil his dream. Unfortunately, our club's name has already been maligned by a misunderstanding in the media and his fans, although we have been working very hard to help him.

''Kiertisak himself doesn't understand what we have done for him. He has never tried to come to see us and we have also failed to contact him,'' complained the team manager, who is a son of the club president and founder Pol Maj Gen MR Chetchandra Pravitra.

Kiertisak, nicknamed Zico, on Wednesday said he would quit Rajpracha if his contract with Huddersfield is not finalised by the end of this month.

He said: ''I have no contract with Rajpracha. They signed me from Krung Thai Bank for Bt300,000 many years ago. That should be enough. Nowadays, I play for them because I had made them a promise. If the deal with Huddersfield is not settled by the end of this month, I will no longer play for Rajpracha.''

ML Supridee said: ''We signed him from Krung Thai Bank, but, as all clubs in Thailand, we are just an amateur club. We don't have to have any signed contract with the player. He is now like a person who has been registered in one house. He cannot move out of the house without the approval of the house owner. That means he cannot quit the club by himself. If he quits, he is not eligible to play for any other club.''

''Indeed, we really want to let him go. But, unfortunately we don't know how. There has been no intimation from the other side [Huddersfield].

''We don't mind if he does not want to play for our club. We know he is a good player and can help the team a lot. But, we cannot force him to play if he does not want to. We regret that this entire saga has tarnished the name of the club, which was established over 30 years ago.

''We don't make any profits from the club. We spend millions of baht each year from our own pocket on the team. But, we seemed to get no praise for it. We are getting all the blame instead.''

BY PRASERT SRISUEB

The Nation

Kiertisak threatens to quit 23/9/99

KIERTISAK Senemuang, the Kingdom's football ace, declared that he will not play for Ratpracha Sports Club from October if the club does not permit him to play for English club Huddersfield.

Kiertisak said: ''I don't have a contract with Ratpracha. After the SEA Games, I played for them because of an earlier promise. I would like to play in England and set an example for other footballers in the country.''

But Pol Maj Gen MR Chetchandra Pravitra, the chairman of Ratpracha Sports Club, said Kiertisak has signed a contract with the club. If Huddersfield wants to buy him, they should pay the compensation.

Huddersfield said it would increase Kiertisak's weekly wage from PDS 600 to PDS 1,000 and offered a bonus of PDS 500 for each match. They also raised the transfer fee from PDS 3,500 to PDS 4,500 which he will receive when he plays 15 matches in two years.

All ready for Provincial League

ARRANGEMENTS for the Nov 7 kick-off of the first Thailand Provincial League have been finalised and PM's Office Minister Jurin Laksanaviset is confident that the event will be a huge success.

Twelve provinces have entered the league, which also kick-starts a government plan to introduce a professional setup in the local sports.

The winners of the inaugural championship will earn a cash reward of Bt1 million, while the first and second runners-up will receive Bt500,000 and Bt200,000 respectively.

Representatives of the Asian Football Confederation, Football Association of Thailand and Revenue Department yesterday finalised rules and regulations for the competition.

Each team, which will be required to play a total of 22 home and away matches, will comprise 25 players and they will be allowed to hire foreign players, up to a maxium of five. Players taking part in leagues organised by the Football Association of Thailand are not allowed to participate in the Provincial League.

However, no decision has been reached on expansion of the league at the end of its first season on March 9 next year.

Jurin said he was confident the league would help initiate a proper professional setup in the country.

The PM's Office Minister said: ''The government is keen to make the project a success. It will bear all the expenses incurred by the organisation of the tournament, including the teams' and officials' expenses.''

According to Jurin's plan, after two seasons a certain number of the teams from the new Provincial League will be selected to play the leading sides from the on-going Caltex Premier League in 2001 in a tournament to be named the ''Super League''.

He advised the participating teams that they should start forming their own bands of cheering squad and fan clubs. ''Fans are one of the most important factors behind the success of any sports event or team,'' Jurin said.

The participating teams in the inaugural Provincial League are from Nakhon Ratchasima, Si Sak Ket, Songkhla, Udon Thani, Nakhon Sawan, Suphan Buri, Bangkok, Satun, Pattani, Chiang Mai, Nakhon Pathom and Surat Thani.

BY KOMKRIT NAPALAI

The Nation

EXHIBITION: Star-studded match in Nov 10/9/99

THE Football Association of Thailand is putting together a star-studded cast for an exhibition match on Nov 14 to celebrate HM the King's 72nd Birthday.

The match, to be played at the Rajamangala National Stadium, will see a Thai selection take on an Asian All-Star side, which is expected to be spearheaded by Iran's Germany-based striker Ali Daie and include Japanese 1998 Asian Player of the Year Hidetoshi Nakata.

The other players who are likely to join the Al-Star squad are Kazuyoki Miura (Japan), Soi Young-chu (South Korea), Fan Chiyi (China) and Khalid Owairan (Saudi Arabia).

The Thai selection will mostly comprise players from the squad that won the gold medal in the 20th SEA Games in Brunei last month. The association has also invited some former national stars like Piyapong Pew-on, Natee Thongsukkaew, Vitoon Kijmongkolsak and Nethipong Srithong-in.

Entry to the match will be free, but fans have been advised to make reservations at the association headquarters at the National Stadium.

Kiertisak gets 'big offer'  9/9/99

ENGLISH First Division side Huddersfield has sent a contract for Thailand skipper Kiertisak Senamuang, but the offer has failed to impress his club officials.

Pol Maj Gen M R Chetchandra Pravitra, chairman of Kiertisak's club Rajpracha, said yesterday Huddersfield were offering the star striker a weekly salary of PDS 600 (Bt36,000).

Chetchan said: ''What they are offering comes to Bt144,000 a month. Zico [Kiertisak's nickname] makes more than Bt200,000 a month in Bangkok. They would have to offer more than this.

''He gets Bt100,000 for acting as a presenter to a sports goods manufacturer and then he draws salaries from the Football Association of Thailand and the club. I think he is better off here.''

Chetchan added that the contract also does not make it clear whether they want Kiertisak on loan or they plan to own him. ''All these details have to be worked out before he joins Huddersfield,'' he said.

Kiertisak had an unsuccessful tryout with the English Premier League club Middlesbrough in July.

The Nation

Seven more players invited to join squad 8/9/99

Suphap Thantiraphant
Seven players, including four from the gold medal-winning SEA Games squad, have been called in to strengthen Thailand's Olympic soccer team.

The Olympic team's form has so far been unimpressive and it was felt necessary to include some more experienced players.

Joining the squad are SEA Games stars Virach Wangchan, Tongchai Akarapong, Seksan Piturat and Jatupong Tongsukd.

Also new to the squad are three SEA Games reserves, Panupong Chimpuk, Tanongsak Prajakata and Kanae Chan-Im.

Meanwhile plans for the squad to tour England have had to be cancelled as too many players were either tied up with academic obligations or were committed to playing in the Caltex League.

Cash bonanzafor Thai soccer stars 4/9/99

MEMBERS of the Brunei SEA Games gold-medal-winning Thai soccer squad and staff coaches were yesterday rewarded with cash bonuses of Bt200,000 each. Thailand defeated Vietnam 2-0 in the Games final last month.

A sum of Bt5 million was raised in a campaign by the daily Thai Rath and team manager Virat Chanpanich.

The majority of the side were present at the Football Association of Thailand (FAT) headquarters at the National Stadium to collect their rewards in the presence of FAT secretary-general Worawi Makudi.

The players, most of whom own houses and cars, said they would deposit the money in their bank accounts as it was the ''wisest course of action in the prevailing economic conditions''.

The three coaches who were awarded Bt200,000 each are Englishman Peter Withe, Chatchai Paholphaet and Amnart Chalermchavalit. The remaining sum of Bt800,000 will be distributed among the handlers and other officials of the Thai squad to the Games.

Speaking on the occasion, Virat said most of the SEA Games squad would be retained for the Kingdom's campaign for a place at next year's Asian Cup in Lebanon.

However, Virat added: ''There are bound to be some changes in the squad. A lot would also depend on how different players performed during the ongoing Caltex Premier League.

''We may have to bring at least a couple of new faces to replace wingbacks Dusit Chalermsaen and Krissada Piandit, who are planning to retire from the national team soon.''

The qualifying tournaments for the Asian Cup get under way next March. Thailand have been drawn in Group Eight with Malaysia, North Korea and Taiwan.

Thailand made their Asian Cup finals debut in 1996 in the United Arab Emirates, where they lost all of their three first-round matches to eventual winners Saudi Arabia, Iran and Iraq.

BY KOMKRIT NAPALAI

The Nation

South African bid officials seek to win over FAT 1/9/99

A TEAM of South African officials overseeing their country's bid for the 2006 World Cup yesterday put across their message in an emphatic manner. They claimed South Africa does not want the event as ''charity'', but should get it because they deserve it.

South African Ambassador Johann van Rensburg and Danny Jordaan, chief executive of the SA football association, yesterday told a press conference they were confident their country will win the right to stage the world's most popular sports event.

Earlier, the visiting officials had a meeting with Worawi Makudi, secretary general of the Football Association of Thailand (FAT) who is also a Fifa voting member, and called on FAT president Vijit Getkaew.

Jordaan said: ''We had a very positive and constructive meeting with Mr Worawi during which we discussed different features of our bid for the 2006 World Cup.

''But we also explored ways to strengthen the ties between the two soccer associations. We also took the opportunity to invite them to visit South Africa and see things for themselves.''

Jordaan added that it was time that Fifa granted the World Cup to Africa.

''We have had 17 World Cups so far, with Europe staging nine, North America four, South America four and Asia will have its first in 2002,'' he said.

''It has been Fifa's policy to award the event to a continent which hasn't had it before. And if we can meet all the Fifa requirements, then what is the argument that Africa should wait longer.

''Football is a global sport played in 204 countries of the world. We must guard against one centre becoming stronger than the rest of the world.

''We have all the infrastructure in place and we have played hosts to a very successful rugby World Cup in 1995 and the best-ever African Nations Cup in 1996.

''They ask for eight stadiums, we are offering 13 with capacities from 40,000 to 85,000 and we have a plan to expand the seating capacity of the FNB Stadium to 110,000. We don't want the World Cup as charity, we promise a pure profitable venture.''

In a video-recorded message played at the press conference, South African president Thabo Mbeki said: ''We stand ready to build upon and deepen the advances that the African continent has made and to take this sport to a higher level.

''We assure you of a world-class event. We have the infrastructure, the facilities and the will to make a success of the biggest show on earth. I promise, you won't be disappointed.''

Former president Nelson Mandela, who is also the patron of South African bid, dwelt on the past achievements by his country as a host and expressed optimism that Fifa will consider its bid favourably.

Van Rensburg said: ''For many centuries, South Africa was a divided country, but things have changed since 1994. Our government is fully behind the bid because it feels the World Cup will be a unifying factor, further strengthening unity among the people.

''The world doesn't owe us anything. We are seeking it because South Africa is capable of doing everything Fifa wants us to.''

England and Germany are also in the race for the World Cup, but Jordaan said he was extremely confident that South Africa will get it. ''Those who love to gamble will tell you that the British bookies have South Africa as the favourite, followed by England and Germany,'' he added.

The two other countries bidding to host the World Cup are Brazil and Morocco. Fifa will vote on July 24 next year to finalise the host for the 2006 event. The 2002 World Cup will be co-hosted by South Korea and Japan in 2002.

Brazil team edge Thailand

* In Dhaka, Brazil's Rio de Janeiro Soccer Federation beat Thailand's Olympic team 1-0 on the fifth day of the 12-nation Bangabandhu Cup football tournament yesterday.

Luiz Henrique headed a corner shot in the 74th minute to send the Thais out of the tournament with two successive defeats. The first was a 2-7 thrashing at the hands of South Korea on Sunday.

BY HANIF HASSAN

The Nation

Withe in charge of Pre-Olympic squad 21/8/99

Suphap Thantiraphant
Thailand's national coach Peter Withe has been put in full control of the pre-Olympic squad as of Monday. The move follows the resignation as coach of former star Piyapong Pue-On who felt his position had been undermined.

Explaining the action, Football Association secretary-general Worawi Makudi said there was no time to waste as the team needed urgent improvement. He noted that the standard of play in the matches against India was very disappointing.

In a bid to lift standards, Withe will take the team to England in September and get them to train with some of the big clubs.

TEAM:Wacharapong Klahan, Naraj Muninopamas, Peeratas Porreundee, Udom Jokob, Niwes Siriwong, Jakrapong Hansuwan, Teerasak Por-Ont, Niruj Surasiang, Bamrung Boonprom, Pongsak Kongkaew, Isawa Singthong, Issares Pala, Apichet Puttan, Sutee Suksomkij, Tewew Chanhom, Klisana Wongbutdee, Virat Sanaeha, Kwanchai Feungprakob and Rangsan Wiwatchaichoke

NATIONAL TEAM: Piyapong still FAT's favourite 19/8/99 

FOOTBALL Association of Thailand (FAT) secretary-general Worawi Makudi was stunned after receiving a resignation letter from national Pre-Olympic team head coach Piyapong Pew-on on Monday.

The FAT official said the former national striker Piyapong had misinterpreted the association's announcement last week that it would select SEA Games coach Peter Withe as technical advisor to the Olympic squad.

''I honestly don't know the real reason behind his resignation, but I guess he must have misunderstood that,'' said Worawi as manager of the national team.

''The association never intended to dump Piyapong. We brought Withe into the team just to get his advice, and in fact Withe has helped us since the first qualifying-round match against India last month'' the secretary-general said.

Piyapong on Monday announced that he would stay out of the team and the squad would be taken over by the British coach according to the association's recent announcement.

However, Worawi said he would clarify the matter with Piyapong but would not withhold his resignation if he insisted on going.

''We can thrash out the problem in no time. At the moment we still have assistant coaches Prapol Pongpanich and Boonlert Iowcharoen to look after the team,'' Worawi said.

The national Pre-Olympics team has cancelled its plans to play a warm-up match in China but will compete in a special tournament in Bangladesh featuring China, South Korea, Japan and Kazhakstan at the end of this month. The team is also scheduled to have warm-ups in London, Liverpool, Newcastle, Birmingham and Manchester.

Meanwhile the FAT extended the contract of SEA Games coach Withe until next November. The English Football Association, which oversees the coaching staff, has also agreed to continue in charge of the Thai squad.

BY KOMKRIT NAPALAI

The Nation

SEA GAMES FINAL

By Michael Church, Editor AFC News Magazine 15/8/99

Thailand returned to the top of South East Asian football with a gold medal winning performance against Vietnam in the final of the South East Asian Games in Brunei.

Goals from Thavatchai Ongtrakul and Dusit Chalermsan sealed Thailand's fourth consecutive Games' title with a 2-0 win over the Vietnamese in front of a packed house in the National Stadium to finish the decade with an impressive record in regional tournaments.

Thailand have played in all five of the decade's SEA Games finals, losing to Indonesia in 1991 before going on to win the next four in a row. They also lifted the inaugural Tiger Cup in Singapore in 1996 but lost out in the 1998 edition, Vietnam beating them in the semi-finals 3-0 before losing to Singapore in the final.

"Everything we have done we have done together," said Thailand's coach Peter Withe after the game. "We have been under pressure since the tournament started because we were three time champions. People want to beat you and knock you off your perch but we battled well for the whole game.

"We still have a little bit of catching up to do and we are looking at catching up with teams like Kuwait, Iran, Korea and Japan while the others in South East Asia are looking to catch up with us and they are catching us very quickly. The four semi-finalists are pushing each other and that's good for Asian football."

The Thais had the majority of the play in the first half, with Sakesan Pituratana and Kiatisuk Senamuang both going close before Ongtrakul opened the scoring with a thunderous strike from 30 yards in the 39th minute, the midfielder firing home after good build-up play by Surachai Jattarapatarapong.

Vietnam, though, came back strongly with Le Huynh Duc just failing to score as the first period went into added time.

And the Vietnamese continued to press for the equaliser after the resumption, Nguyen Duc Thang seeing his header of Nguyen Hong Son's cross sail just over the bar while substitute Nguyen Van Sy flashed an effort across the face of goal.

The killer strike came with just four minutes to go. With Vietnam becoming increasingly desperate to equalise, Dusit struck from the edge of the area, his shot finding the back of the net as team-mate Kritsada Piandit stepped over the ball.

"It was very difficult for the keeper to see where the ball was going because Kritsada was in the way," said Withe, "but it was a fine strike. In training we recorded the power of some of Dusit's shooting and he was hitting the ball at 125 kilometres an hour which is fairly hard!"

Indonesia, meanwhile, picked up the bronze medal in a penalty shoot-out over last year's Tiger Cup champions Singapore.

Goalkeeper Hendro Kartiko was his nation's hero after saving spot-kicks from Singapore captain Nazri Nasir and Rafi Ali as Indonesia won 4-2 following a scoreless draw during 90 minutes.

"Our goalkeeper made two tremendous saves and because of that we deserve the medal," said Indonesia's coach Bernhard Schumm after the game. "We are happy we can go home with this result. I told the players before the game that even good teams can lose one game but we can't lose twice and that was our target today."

Soccer squad keep its slate clean

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN -- The golden boy and bad boy of Thai soccer combined last night to help the Kingdom put their reputation as the kingpins of the region beyond any doubts.

Thawatchai Damrong-ongtrakul just can't seem to get tired of playing the role of hero. His golden goal against South Korea put Thailand in the 1998 Bangkok Asiad semifinal and yesterday he netted another that was also worth its weight in gold.

Dusit Chalermsaen, often blamed and sacked for his errant behaviour, also got on the scoresheet to give Thailand a 2-0 victory Vietnam in the final at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium last night.

It is the fourth SEA Games gold on the trot for Thailand, who have dominated the regional soccer scene like no other nation has since their triumph at the 1993 Singapore SEA Games.

Thailand's English coach Peter Withe said: ''We were under a lot of stress because we were the three-time champs, but the boys stuck together and controlled the game well.

''We have come a long way. We are now trying to match the likes of Iran, South Korea and Japan while at the same time the teams from the region are trying to catch us. This is a very healthy sign for Asian soccer.''

Thailand took the field as favourites and they were put ahead by a curling long shot by Thawatchai in the 39th minute. The Vietnamese have themselves to blame for this costly lapse because Thawatchai was given ample time to execute the shot.

Thailand went on the defensive after gaining a 1-0 lead. They moved their defenders up a bit and together with the midfielders they choked the Vietnamese attacks in the midfield. They carried the advantage into the second half.

The Vietnamese kept ramming into the Thai defence wall. They could not make any inroads and failed to move up from the flanks, too.

They only succeeded in putting some pressure on the Thais in the dying moments of the match, but by then the Thais were comfortably placed after Dusit netted their second goal in the 85th minute. Indonesia, runners-up at the 1997 SEA Games at home, took the bronze medal after defeating Singapore 4-2 in penalty shootout following a goalless draw at time.

Earlier, Peter Velappan, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) secretary-general, yesterday implied that AFC will be pressing for the introduction of an age-limit at the future SEA Games soccer tournaments.

The SEA Games Federation (SGF) has been opposed to the idea, saying that the Games was not in jurisdiction of the AFC to implement its plans.

During a visit to the Main Press Centre yesterday, Velappan claimed that SGF was right in its contention, ''but we as the football governing body in Asia know what is best for the game''.

He added that AFC was only trying to play an advisory role, but added that if SGF remained adamant AFC may not sanction the SEA Games soccer events in the future and pull back its technical support.

Velappan said it was too late to introduce an age limit at the 2002 Pusan Asian Games, but it would be done for the next Asiad.

He said: ''The SEA Games should provide a stage to help develop young players. We have the Asian and World Cups and I believe that national teams should be concentrating on qualifying for these major events.''

BY HANIF HASSAN

The Nation

Thailand tame the Lions with gutsy performance 13/8/99

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN -- Thailand's soccer squad yesterday presented HM the Queen with a splendid present on her birthday by delivering the promised victory over Singapore in the semifinals.

Before the start of the match, Olympic Committee of Thailand chairman Gen Chettha Tanajaro conveyed HM the Queen's best wishes to the team and said that Her Majesty would be watching the game on television.

The national soccer side responded with an impressive 2-0 victory over Singapore which earned them a crack at what could be their fourth straight gold medal of the SEA Games. They face Vietnam in the title showdown tomorrow.

The crowd at the main stadium of the Hassanal Bolkiah National Sports Complex was not befitting the occasion, but the Thais still made the semifinal a memorable occasion.

Coach Peter Withe was delighted with the result as he told a crowded post-match press conference: ''It was a great effort by the team.

''Their exists a great rivalry between the teams in this region and Singapore are no exception. It was always going to be a tough match, but we controlled the game well.

''Singapore came on pretty strong in the first 20 minutes, but then we had an early goal that relieved the players of a lot of pressure and they started playing better.

''In the second half, we allowed Singapore space in the midfield and gave them more possession of the ball than I would have liked. Then Wang [Thawatchai Damrong-ongtrakul] scored a beautiful goal and regained control of the game.

''The boys were in high spirits today. It is Mothers Day in Thailand today and they all called up their homes before the match. Maybe that gave them the enthusiasm.''

Thailand were more attacking than their rivals and when skipper Kiertisak Senamuang found it hard to score himself he set one up for Singapore-based midfielder Tawan Sripan in the 20th minute.

The Singaporeans had an opportunity to get on even terms but their bid for the equaliser in the injury time of the first half was thwarted by goalkeeper Virat Wangchan.

Singapore's dreams of a place in the final suffered another jolt in the 85th minute when Thawatchai netted a beauty of a goal to seal a 2-0 victory for the Thais.

Singapore coach Vincent Subramaniam said: ''We did well in the first 20 minutes, but then conceded the goal. We tried to score the equaliser, but it only helped Thailand improve their game.''

Vietnam shocked Indonesia 1-0 in their semifinal yesterday, thanks to a strike by Nguyen Hong Sen. The two matches were played simultaneously.

Nguyen scored in the 70th minute to send Vietnam into only their second final in the Games. They last qualified for the showdown at the 1995 Chiang Mai Games where they lost to hosts Thailand 4-0.

The match was evenly contested and the Indonesians have only themselves to blame for the defeat. Indonesia were the more organised side and created more chances but were let down by poor finishing.

Indonesia's Uston Nawawi and Bima Sakti, who played a commanding role in midfield, were threatening but just could not find the target.

Commenting on Thailand's final match, team manager Virat Chanpanich said: ''It is going be another tough game for us. They are a very good team.

''When we played them in the first round we had spotted some shortcomings in our game. We will be working on them tomorrow. I hope that Thailand will win the gold medal for a fourth straight time.''

The first-clash between Thailand and Vietnam had ended in a goalless tie.

Velappan wants youngsters

* ASIAN football supremo Peter Velappan yesterday criticised Southeast Asian nations for using full senior squads at the Brunei SEA Games.

Velappan, general secretary of the Asian Football Confederation, said although the SEA Games football tournament was designed for youth teams, the presence of full-strength sides had helped to create a lop-sided tournament.

''Obviously, the teams of Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia and Vietnam are in one league,'' he said, referring to the semi-finalists.

''I am happy that the next SEA Games will be limited to the under-23 sides,'' said the Malaysian, whose country will host the next Games in 2001.

Velappan said the tournament should be used ''to encourage more young players, to have them exposed to international competition''.

This year's SEA Games football competition has seen many highscoring matches.

Other teams like Burma, Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia and the Philippines will have to pull up their socks, the Asian Football Confederation official added.

''So there is no need for national teams to play. They should aim for the next higher level.''

BY HANIF HASSAN

The Nation

UNDER-18 UMBRO CUP: Young Thais walking tall 12/8/99

LONDON -- The ''Bangkok Select'' team have triumphed in the Under-18 Umbro Cup at this year's Manchester International Football Festival -- beating Norwegian team Nordstrand 2-0 in the final recently.

The sixth Manchester International Football Festival had 400 teams from 20 nations taking part, making it one of the most prestigious and successful festivals in England. The festival covered many age groups, varying from Under-11 up to Under-18.

Tournament organiser David Shepherd said: ''When the Bangkok Select team first played in the Umbro Cup in 1996, we were blessed with one of the best teams seen in the tournament either before or since -- I was thrilled to have them back.''

The squad also had the opportunity to visit the 1999 FA Charity Shield match between Arsenal and Manchester United at Wembley as guests of the English FA. Arsenal won the game 2-1.

The Thai team returned home and continued their preparation for the Fifa under-17 World Championship in New Zealand.

BY NICK BARRON

The Nation

Favourites Thailand rout 10-man Burma 8/8/99

Huge win ensures top spot in group A
Tor Chittinand
Thailand's football team clinched top place in Group A of the SEA Games competition yesterday with a comprehensive 7-0 thrashing of Burma.

The win gave them a far superior goal difference over rivals Vietnam who earlier could only manage a 2-0 victory over the Philippines.

It was a convincing display by Thailand and confirmed their position as favourites for the SEA Games soccer title. A disappointing Burma side were completely outplayed and never threatened to create an upset

Cheered on by an enthusiastic crowd of Thai workers based in Brunei, Thailand took command from the start and it was only a matter of time before they scored.

As it was, they opened their account in the 16th minute with a soft goal following a terrible blunder by the Burmese goalie Myo Hlaing Win who helped palm Tawan Sriphan's rather tame shot into the back of the net.

Within two minutes Thailand were 2-0 up when a powerful shot by Tananchai Boriban was deflected past the goalie by a defender.

For the remainder of the first half Thailand continued to dominate play but failed to take their chances.

However Burma found themselves reduced to 10 men just before half time after Win Htaik's received a second yellow card for a bad tackle.

The teams went in at the interval with Thailand 2-0 up but it should have been more.

Peter Withe's half-time pep talk seemed to do the trick and with their numerical advantage the Thai team stepped up a gear in the second half.

The third goal came in the 63rd minute when the Burmese goalie failed to hold a long shot and Jatupong Thongsuk was on hand to stab the ball in from just two yards out.

Ten minutes later it was 4-0 when Dusit Chalermsaen's long-rate shot was only palmed out by the keeper and Jatupong squared the ball back for Seksan Piturat who did well to nod the ball home.

Two minutes later Seksan added to his account in the 74th minute when he fired home a beauty following a cross from Kiatisak Senamuang to make it 5-0.

It was now little more than shooting practice for Thailand and Jatupong added his second of the night in the 83rd minute when another fierce shot from Dusit was pushed out by the keeper and Jatupong slammed the ball home.

Captain Kiatisak finally got his name on the score sheet in the very last minute to round off the scoring 7-0.

After the match Withe said he was pleased with his side's positive performance and ability to score goalss.

"Our team controlled the match very well," he said. "It also helped that Burma were reduced to 10 men for the second half."

He said he was not too concerned who Thailand faced in the semi-final as he felt his side were the best in the competition and could beat either Singapore or Indonesia.

In the semi-finals Thailand will either play Indonesia or Singapore depending on the outcome of today's Group B matches. Indonesia take on Brunei and Singapore play Cambodia.

With both teams on seven points and wanting to avoid playing Thailand in the semis, Indonesia and Singapore will be looking for big victories.

Earlier Vietnam defeated the Philippines 2-0 with a brace of goals from Dang Phuong Nam in the 44th and 61st minutes.

Thailand's famed strikers fail to break Vietnam wall 6/8/99

DEFENDING champions Thailand are on the verge of
securing a place in the semifinals of the 20th SEA Games
soccer competition despite playing a goalless draw against
Vietnam in their Group A match yesterday.

The Kingdom, who scored wins over the Philippines and Laos
in the previous matches, remain on top of the group and,
along with Vietnam, are likely to move into the next round.
Laos and the Philippines, the other two teams in the group,
have to pack their bags and head home as both finished at the
bottom.

Burma, who with Laos were involved in a close battle which
ended goalless yesterday, should pray for a miracle in their
last round-robin match against Thailand on Sunday. It's a
must-win match for Burma, who have to score five goals to
eliminate the 1997 champion from the competition.

In Group B, Singapore and runners-up Indonesia looked set to
book places in the semifinals while hosts Brunei, Malaysia
and Cambodia have little hopes of moving further.

Thai team manager Virach Charnpanich played down the
draw and said there is no need to press the panic button.

''The team failed to beat Vietnam but that was expected.
There was no pressure on the players to go all out. It was a
strategic match and our players were just sizing up their
rivals,'' he said.

''We are concerned about beating Burma on Sunday to move
into the semifinals. I don't care if we finish first or second in
the group. All we need is a victory in the next match. Our
target is to become champions for the fourth consecutive
time,'' Virach said.

Thailand's attacking game wilted under the solid defence of
the Vietnamese, who scotched every move of Thai players.
Strikers Kiertisak Senamuang and Seksan Piturat were kept
at bay in the entire first half. Thailand's chances of breaking
the deadlock came in the 27th minute when Surachai
Jatupattarapong, who received a pass from Kiertisak, just had
to beat the goalkeeper. But Pham Nhu Thuan appeared from
nowhere and quickly cleared the ball to the utter
disappointment of Thai fans at the Hassanal Bolkiah National
Sports Complex.

In the second half, Thailand had maximum possession of the
ball but the Vietnamese guarded their citadel in brilliant
fashion.

Vietnam, who lost to Thailand in the 1995 and 1997 Games,
briefly celebrated a ''goal'' by substitute Dang Phoong Nam in
the 79th minute but the Malaysian linesman had already lifted
his flag to indicate he was offside.

Thailand got a clear opportunity in the last minute. But Krisada
Piandis, from eight yards, made a feeble kick straight into the
hands of Vietnamese goalkeeper Tran Minh Quang.

Standings

GROUP A

Country M W D L GF GA Pts

Thailand 3 2 1 0 13 1 7

Vietnam 3 2 1 0 11 0 7

Burma 3 1 1 4 3 4 4

Laos 4 1 1 2 4 15 4

Philippines 3 0 0 3 3 16 0

BY KOMKRIT NAPALAI
Defending champs Thailand lack consistency 2/8/99

REIGNING and three-time champions Thailand yesterday
were far from best when they trounced lowly Laos 4-1 in
the 20th Brunei SEA Games soccer competition at the
Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah Stadium packed with adoring
Thai fans.

After overwhelming Filipinos 9-0 in the Group A opener,
the Kingdom's squad went into the field with their heads
high. Powered by star striker Kiertisak Senamuang, who
scored four goals in the opener, the team comprises
goalie Chaiyong Khampiam, Krissada Piendis, Chukiart
Noosalung, Chokethawee Promrat, Surachai Jirasirichote,
Dusit Chalermsaen, Tawan Sripan, Anurak Srikerd,
Thongchai Akkarapong and Voravudh Srimaka.

The Thais attacked from the opening whistle, but the
Laotians, who relied on solid defence and long passes,
counter-attacked in several occasions.

Thailand kept on pressing and got breakthrough in the
20th minute when Tawan slammed home a right-foot drive
from 25 yards after receiving a pass from Anurak.
Although the Thais were hoping to score more goals, but
found their rivals' a tough nut to crack.

After the break, the Thais changed their strategy relying on
short passes which handed Laotians several golden
opportunities to launch waves of attack.

Thailand scored the second in the 73rd when Dusit
volleyed for substitute Jatupong Thongsuk who headed to
the front of the Laos' goal as Chokethawee seized the
chance, netting from six yards.

The Kingdom's players found another net just two minutes
later. Seksan Piturat, replacing Thongchai, passed to
Jaturong, who swiftly planted for Kiertisak to head home
and widened the gap to 3-0.

Thailand drove in the final nail in the 84th minute with a
spectacular header by Seksan, off a pass form Kiertisak.
The game seemed to end with a 4-0 scoreline in favour of
the Kingdom's squad, but something went wrong in the
team just in the last minute before the time.

Bounmy Thamavongsa upended the Thai sweeper
Chukiart Noosalung before passing it to Bounlap
Khenkitisack, who chipped the ball into the Thai net. The
Laotians were jubilant as if they have won the match.
However, it was the Thai squad who won the match,
beating Laos 4-1 to go atop the Group A with six points.

After the match, Thai national team manager Virach
Charnpanich revealed that the team played below their
standard. However, they still have to play two matches
including -- Aug 5 against Vietnam and Burma on Aug 8.

Head coach Peter Withe was also not happy with the
Thais' performance yesterday, saying that the players did
not live up to his expectations.

''They did not play well today [yesterday]. If they play like
this, I don't think they will survive early rounds,'' said Withe.

In the other match, Burma demolished the Philippines by
the same 4-1 margin.

Group A Standing

Team P W D L F A Pts

Thailand 2 2 0 0 13 1 6

Vietnam 1 1 0 0 9 0 3

Burma 1 1 0 0 4 1 3

Laos 2 0 0 2 1 1 3

Philippines 2 0 0 2 1 1 3

BY KOMKRIT NAPALAI

The Nation

Soccer players told not to be overconfident 01/7/99

EVEN though Thailand overwhelmed the Phillipines 9-0 in the opening match of the Brunei SEA Games soccer competition on Friday, the players were told not to be overconfident and careless in their second match against Laos today.

After clearing an easy obstacle, the 18-member Thai team, under the close supervision of team manager Virach Charnpanich and head coach Peter Withe, trained for two hours yesterday.

After the practice session, Virach told reporters a couple of Thai players had been injured during the match and Withe had suggested that they rest for the match against Laos. 

''Withe advised that midfielder Thanunchai Boriban and stopper Surachai Jirasirichote should rest. Captain Kiertisak Senamuang is fit and raring to go. He has already recovered from his rib injury. I don't think it will affect him tomorrow,'' Virach said.

Withe said the team would play a 3-3-2 format against Laos. ''Virach Wangchan will be in goal. Chukiart Noosalung, Pattanapong Sripramote and Chokethawee Promrat will be the three defenders, Krissada Piendis and Dusit Chalermsaen will play as backs, and Thawatchai Damrong-ongtrakul, Tawan Sripan and Anurak Srikerd will man the midfield.

''We will rest Surachai Jaturaphattarapong and Thongchai Akkarapong for today's match. Kiertisak and Voravudh Srimaka will be fielded in the first half, and Jatupong Thongsuk will replace Kiertisak in the second.''

Virach and Withe yesterday watched four teams in Group B play at the stadium where runners-up Indonesia edged Cambodia 1-0 and Singapore outplayed Malaysia 2-1.

''I watched the four teams play. They did not impress me. If any of those teams meets us in the semifinals, I'm sure we will beat them easily. However, I don't think our players will be complacent or careless in any match,'' Virach said.

Meanwhile, Vijit Getkaew, president of the Football Association of Thailand (FAT), said he expected Thai players to do their best in all the matches, while Withe was told to devise a game plan for the encounter against Laos.

''We have to make the best possible plan, but more importantly we have to score as many goals as possible so that it won't cause us any problem in the following rounds. To make sure we beat Laos today, I told Withe to set up a good plan for the match,'' Vijit said.

Piyapong relegated

n The Football Association of Thailand (FAT) has relegated Piyapong Pew-on to assistant coach of the Pre-Olympic squad and appointed Peter Withe to coach the young players instead.

After a dismal performance in the first round of the Olympic qualifying, Piyapong was sacked because of ''his lack of international experience of coaching''.

In the second round, Thailand was drawn in the same group with Japan and Kazakhstan. They have to win at least three out of their six home-and-away round-robin matches to book a place for the Sydney Olympics, and Piyapong was judged to be incapable of doing it.

Vijit Getkaew, FAT's president, said: ''I hope he will understand and not be disappointed. It is apparent that Withe is more suited to this important job.''

The young squad will fly to England to train with Aston Villa, Withe's old club, in early September before flying directly to Japan to play the opening match against the host on Oct 2.

''We have a big budget for this campaign. We really hope our dream will come true this time,'' Vijit said. 
Withe's contract expires in October, but the FAT will offer him a new one. The details have not yet been revealed.

BY KOMKRIT NAPALAI

The Nation

Thailand begin with a 9-0 triumph 31/7/99

Indonesian ace fails dope test, booted out

Post Reporters

Thailand began their defence of the SEA Games football title in sparkling
style yesterday when they crushed the Philippines 9-0 in the opening
match of the tournament in Brunei.

Leading the rout was Thailand's star centre-forward Kiatisak "Zico"
Senamuang who slammed in four goals as the Thai side completely
outclassed a poor Philippine team.

Although the opposition was weak, Thailand's English coach Peter Withe
could be well satisfied at his team's positive approach in their opening
match.

However, they will find Burma and Vietnam, who are also in their group,
much stiffer opposition than the Philippine team which was lucky to keep
the scoring down to single figures.

Vietnam sounded out their own warning when they also hammered Laos
9-0 in the other group match played yesterday.

Cheered on by 10,000 Thai spectators working in Brunei, it took the
Thai side only six minutes to open their account when Anurak Srikerd
stormed through the leaky Filipino defence to slam the ball in the back of
the net.

Thailand continued to totally dominate play, but for nearly half an hour
they were thwarted by desperate defending. They also fell into the offside
trap too often, being caught eight times in the first half.

However in 34th minute Surachai Jirasirichote was tripped in the penalty
area and Kiatisak made no mistake from the penalty spot.

Four minutes later Kiatisak collected a second goal and his easiest of the
match when he headed in from close range after the Philippine keeper
failed to cut out a cross.

The teams went in at the interval with Thailand leading 3-0.

Withe's half-time pep talk certainly seemed to work as Thailand came
storming out in the second half, scoring two goals in the opening two
minutes. Both Surachai and Seksan Piturat, with a great individual effort,
found the back of the net with the Philippine team in total disarray.

Kiatisak notched his hat-trick in the 64th minute after beating the offside
trap and the score remained 6-0 until five minutes before the end when
Thailand finished with a flourish.

In the 85th minute Choktawee Promrat made it 7-0 and in the 89th
substitute Voravudh Srimaka rose above the Filipino defence to score
from a fine header.

Kiatisak completed proceedings just before the final whistle with another
header to notch his fourth goal of the match and make the final scoreline
9-0.

After the match Withe said he was pleased with his team's positive
attitude but noted they would face much tougher opponents in Vietnam
and Burma.

There was some concern over Kiatisak who picked up a rib injury, but it
was not thought to be serious.

Thailand's next match is against Laos tomorrow.

uIn Jakarta-Indonesia's young ace striker Kurniawan Dwi Yulianto has
been barred from playing in the Indonesian football team at the Brunei
Games after failing a dope test, reports said yesterday.

"It is better that this thing is discovered now than in Brunei," Deputy
chairman of the Indonesian National Sports Committee (Koni), Arie
Sudewo, was quoted by the Berita Buana evening daily as saying.

Kurniawan and another player whose identity was not revealed, tested
positive in pre-competition dope tests carried out by Koni ahead of the
Games.

Berita Buana quoted sources in Koni as saying that the doping tests,
carried out in June and again this month, found traces of amphetamines in
Kurniawan's urine samples.

Thailand fully confident of retaining title28/7/99

Withe delighted with fitness, preparation
Tor Chittinand

Reigning SEA Games champions Thailand will leave for Brunei tomorrow
and will start the defence of their title on Friday against the Philippines.

The soccer tournament starts eight days before the 20th SEA Games
officially open on August 7. The Games finish on August 15.

The Football Association of Thailand (FAT) has finalised the 18-man squad for Brunei and after considerable debate defender Thanongsak Prajakkata was the unlucky player to be dropped from the provisional roster.

Thai head coach Peter Withe said: "It was hard to cut down the squad to
18 players and to get the right balance between attack and defence.

"The team is fully prepared for the task of defending the SEA Games title
in terms of fitness and tactical awareness.

"Every player has been training hard and we have a well-balanced squad of players, any of whom can play in the first 11."Thailand are in the same
group as the Philippines, Vietnam and Burma.

"We have got videotapes of our opponents in action and we have carefully
studied their tactics," added Withe.

"But it is more important for us to concentrate on ourselves and on
improving our weak points.

"That is what we were doing in the recent games against Notts County and Uzbekistan."Team manager Virat Charnpanich said: "Originally we had been thinking of dropping a midfielder from the squad but in the end we decided it was better to cut down the defenders.

"We have analysed all the other teams but the most important thing is to
concentrate on getting three points from each match and not worry too
much about how many goals we score and other matters."



SEA GAMES SQUAD

Chaiyong Kampiem, Virat Wangchan, Kritsada Piendit, Pattanapong
Sripramote, Choketawee Promrat, Chukiet Nusalung, Surachai
Jirasirichote, Surachai Jaturapattarapong, Anurak Srikerd, Tawan Sripan,
Thawatchai Dumrong-ongtrakul, Jatupong Thongsuk, Kiatisak Senamuang
(captain), Voravut Srimaka, Thongchai Akkarapong, Tananchai Boriban,
Dusit Chalermsaeng, Seksan Piturat

Kiertisak's brace just good for hosts 22/7/99

A BRACE of goals from Kiertisak Senamuang yesterday
powered hosts Thailand to a magnificent 4-1 victory over
Notts County in a friendly match at the National Stadium.

Just two minutes from the opening whistle, Thailand drew
the first blood when Kiertisak received the ball from
Surachai Jaturattanapong before firing an easy goal for a
1-0 lead.

But the visitors found an equaliser eight minutes later after
Mark Warren headed home a 10-metre cross from Dennis
Pearce.

As the Kingdom relied mostly on midfielders, Notts County
counted much on both wings. However, the attack from the
British team appeared to have wilted under the tropical
heat at the arena.

In the 24th minute, a Kiertisak's attempt was blocked by
the Notts County defence which saw the ball bounce to
Sakesan Pituratana who seized the opportunity to find the
net. Thailand jumped to a 2-1 lead.

From then, Notts County's high hopes to level the score
faded away after home players deliberately slowed down
the game until the first half.

In the 54th minute, Surachai Jirasirichote produced a
splendid pass to Sakesan, who suddenly struck home with
an exceptional left-foot shot to widen the gap 3-1.

Cheered by the partisan crowd at the venue, the Thai
squad continued their domination with striker Kiertisak
and Jatupong Thongsukh taking a brilliant offensive
combination before Kiertisak created a fine shot from the
penalty area to end the visitors' challenge 4-1.

The Football Association of Thailand (FAT) president Vijit
Getkaew was overjoyed after the victory.

''The way our players performed today was exceptionally
well. They really lived up to my expectation'' said the FAT
leader, who was even more confident of Thai chances to
win the SEA Games gold medal for third consecutive time.

''If they can continue this level of performance, they should
not miss the gold medal in this SEA Games'' Vijit added.

Meanwhile, FAT will announce the names of 18 players for
the Brunei Games on July 23. Most players who competed
against Notts County yesterday are expected to be in the
team.

BY KOMKRIT NAPALAI

The Nation

Indians find Thai boots hard 18/7/99

SUPHAN BURI -- Thailand's national pre-Olympics soccer
team took a step closer to the second round of Olympic
qualifying by defeating India 2-0 in the home-leg match of the
Asian Zone Group 9 yesterday.

Only two teams, Thailand and India, are left in the group as
the other teams, Singapore, Brunei and Laos, have pulled out.

Thailand fulfilled their ambition of beating India by a margin of
two goals in their home match, so that they can take the away
game in India on July 24 lightly. ''I am happy with the way my
boys played today. They did quite well and met our target of a
two-goal margin. It made our task easy, and they can play
without any care or burden on their shoulders in the away
leg,'' said national-team coach Piyapong Pew-on after the
match.

Playing before 30,000 cheering fans at the Suphan Buri
provincial stadium, the Thai team put the visiting Indians under
pressure right from the start of the game. However, all their
aggressive moves failed to penetrate the solid Indian defence
throughout the first half, which ended scoreless.

India had a chance to break the deadlock in the 17th minute of
the first half when Hardeep Singh Sanga made a beautiful
pass to Dipendu Biswas, who was alone inside the penalty
box. Unfortunately Biswas' shot was blocked by goalkeeper
Panuwat Tang-anurat.

India's rock-solid defence was torn apart two minutes into the
second half when brilliant right back Apichet Pudtan made a
perfect cross from the right flank for the speedy striker,
Bamrung Boonprom, who bulged the Indian net with a superb
header.

The agile Indian goalkeeper, Kalyan Chaubey, failed to reach
Apichet's cross, thus making it easy for Bamrung, who
rushed in to head the ball into the goal for a 1-0 lead.

Inspired by rabid fans and a one-goal advantage, the Thai
boys put more thrust into their attacking game and searched
for more goals. Their relentless attempts paid off in the 76th
minute when Niruj Surasiang picked up a loose ball from an
Indian defender and triggered a shot from 20 yards to beat the
hapless Indian custodian.

India worked hard in the last 10 minutes of the game to
salvage some pride. On two occasions they were on the brink
of scoring. Lokram James Singh made a powerful 20-yard
shot which went wide of the left post in the 82nd minute, and
Mahesh Gauwli's attempt with a header on an the empty goal
in the 87th was cleared by the agile defender, Chakrapong
Suwan.

''We were at a disadvantage in all respects both on and off the
field. However, we won't be crestfallen at the loss. We have
full confidence that we can beat the Thai team by the same
margin on our home soil and force a tie-breaker,'' India's
coach Sanker Prased Moitra said after the match.

Meanwhile Vijit Getkaew, president of the Football Association
of Thailand, said he was happy with the outcome of the
match. ''Two goals is not a small margin, and I feel it is
enough to keep them at bay. We shall have to concentrate
more when we play them in India in the second leg. Certainly
they will put us under tremendous pressure, and we have to
cope with it. Our boys have to rise to the occasion,'' he said.

The winners of Group 9 will play Saudi Arabia and Kuwait in
the second round of Asian Zone qualification.

BY KOMKRIT NAPALAI

The Nation

Kiertisak gets knockout blow

KIERTISAK Senamuang failed to qualify for Middlesbrough
team yesterday as he did not have a temporary transfer
certificate from his Ucom Rajpracha club.

The Thai star was told by deputy team manager Viv Anderson
to call it a day in the trial after failing to show the certificate to
the officials.

Anderson was quoted by a Thai reporter in England that it was
useless for Kiertisak to be in the trial without any approval
document from his club.

Besides, Kiertisak was not even included in the team for
tomorrow's warm-up match against Hartlepool.

A Rajpracha official yesterday said the club was not contacted
by Kiertisak for any approval, besides it has no intention of
rejecting a player going for a trial.

Meanwhile, the national Pre-Olympic team suffered a setback
before their clash with India yesterday when team captain
Nivet Siriwong suffered intestinal pain, forcing coach Piyapong
Pew-on to reshuffle his players.

While the team was undergoing light training yesterday at the
Suphan Buri stadium, stopper Nivet complained of serious
stomach ache and was rushed to Pornchai hospital.

However, the doctor said he should recover by today and
return for light practice. However, there is no guarantee that
Nivet would be able to play against India tomorrow.

BY KOMKRIT NAPALAI

The Nation

Team for Olympic qualifier

THE Football Association of Thailand yesterday announced
the list of 18 players for an Olympic qualifier against India this
Friday in Suphan Buri.

Coach Piyapong Pew-on, a former national striker, said after
revealing the names that he was confident of Thai chances of
beating India in both the home and away matches.

The national side yesterday outclassed the Suphan Buri junior
team 4-0 in their final warm-up.

''Actually I did not take today's match seriously, as I only
wanted to test my players. I was satisfied with the way the
boys played,'' said Piyapong.

The national coach has seen video tapes of the Indian team
and accepted that the visitors could not be underestimated,
especially their aggressive forwards.

''However, I've worked out a game plan for the match, though I
can't spill the beans now. Our team need to score as many
goals as possible so that they will be out of pressure in the
away match [on July 24],'' Piyapong said.

However, there is a fear of a jinx at the Suphan Buri Stadium,
the ground for the pre-Olympic match between Thailand and
Japan five years ago which ended with a humiliating 5-0 loss
by the Kingdom's squad.

''Personally, I don't believe in that sort of thing. I believe my
team will beat the Indians with the same score. Whenever I go
to Suphan Buri I succeed, and I don't think there'll be any
difference this time,'' the national coach said.

The Pre-Olympics players are Watcharapong Klaharn,
Panuwat Tanganurat, Nivet Siriwong, Jakkrapong Hansuwan,
Sombat Chomchaipon, Apichet Puutarn, Niroot Surasiang,
Isares Pala, Pirathat Poruendee, Thirasak Po-on, Bamroong
Boonprom, Pongsak Kongkaew, Suthee Nuliam, Krisana
Wonbutdee, Theves Janhorm, Suthee Suksomkij, Manit
Noivet and Asawa Singthong.

BY KOMKRIT NAPALAI

The Nation

Kiartisak gets trials with Borough

LOCAL striker Kiartisak Senamuang is to fly to England next
month for trials with premiership club Middlesbrough.

The Thai star will undergo a two-week test from July 5. If he
passes, team coach and ex-Manchester United captain Bryan
Robson may want to sign him.

Robson decided to call Kiartisak in for trials after seeing him
play in videos supplied by Pongsak Pol-anun, CEO of Siam
Sports Indicate.

''This is a great honour and a big opportunity for me. I always
dreamed of becoming a professional player one day,'' said
Kiartisak, who has helped Thailand win the SEA Games gold
medal three times since 1993.

''I have played in many matches against famous teams and
I'm relatively confident about my ability,'' said the No 1 soccer
star, who also spearheaded the Kingdom's team which beat
Arsenal 4-3 in a friendly match last month.

Kiartisak is the second local player to have trials with the
north-eastern English club. Former national player Netipong
Srithong-in also went for trials with the team three years ago
but failed.

''Netipong was about to quit the national squad and was not in
good shape at all when he went for trials. I'm quite fit and
should have a good chance of being taken on,'' the national
soccer star said.

Kiartisak is so determined to do well in the test that he has
been doing intensive training with Football Association of
Thailand (FAT) coaches before he leaves Bangkok on July 3.
He's also been studying spoken English.

National coach Peter Withe commented that Kiartisak has the
ability to do well, but still needs to put in a lot of work.

''He has the talent and the ability, but I would say that at the
moment he is only 60 per cent ready for the trial. He needs to
devote more time to practising if he really wants to pursue
professional soccer as a career,'' Withe said.

According to Pongsak, a Middlesbrough player will receive a
minimum wage of PDS 5,000 a week. However, considering
Kiartisak's qualifications, if he is taken he will earn around
PDS 10,000.

BY KOMKRIT NAPALAI

FIFA U-17 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP NEW ZEALAND '99: RESULTS OF FINAL DRAW 15/6/99

Zurich, 14 June 1999 - The final draw for the FIFA U-17 World Championship held
today at the Sky Theatre in Auckland (New Zealand) produced the following results:
Group A: NewZealand, USA, Uruguay, Poland  Venue: Auckland North Harbor

Group B: Thailand, Spain, Ghana, Mexico  Venue: Napier

Group C: Brazil, Australai or Bahrain, Germany, Mali Venue: Christchurch

Group D: Jamaica, Burkina Faso, Paraguay, Qatar Venue: Dunedin

Diplomat' Havelange keeps Thais in good humour 14/6/99

NOW that his job as the president of Fifa is over, Joao Havelange, it appears, is preparing himself for the job of a Brazilian ambassador in some strategically less important country.

The former Fifa president yesterday spoke like a veteran diplomat at a press conference at a local hotel as he refused to take any stand on any of the issues raised by the members of the local media.

Havelange, who held the office of Fifa president for 24 years before retiring last year, arrived yesterday to attend a four-nation tournament to celebrate HM the King's 72nd Birthday.

The tournament starts on Wednesday when the hosts face Oceania champions New Zealand and Poland meet a selection of the Brazilian league at the Rajamangala National Stadium. The final and third-place playoffs are scheduled to be held on Saturday.

While much was expected from the former world soccer leader, Havelange refused to offer his personal opinion even on a trivial matter like the Brazilian team's chances in the four-nation tournament, the question answered by one of the members of his entourage.

However, Havelange did a great job in reciting eulogies for the Football Association of Thailand [FAT] officials which had its president Vijit Getkaew and secretary-general Worawi Makudi grinning throughout the
press conference..

Havelange said he felt that South east Asian countries were capable of staging the World Cup in the future if they can bring the available facilities to match Fifa standards.  

''There are no big or small countries in football. Any country can apply to play host to the World Cup,'' he said.

He added that if Fifa policy of rotating the World Cup to different continents was followed, the 2006 World Cup should be staged in Africa, but ''now that there are six countries in the running, there will be a vote.'' South Africa, Morocco, Egypt, England, Germany and Brazil are all
seeking to host the 2006 World Cup.

Answering a question regarding a pullout threat issued by the Asian Football (AFC) Confederation if the number of Asian countries at the 2002 World Cup was not increased to four teams apart from hosts South Korea and Japan, he said: ''It is up to the Fifa board to decide. An increase in the Asian quota would affect that of the other continents
and they may not take it lightly.''

Regarding the Thai bid to become Fifa's centre for football development in East Asia, he said: ''The Thai association has capable officials and I am sure they have all the needed facilities to be the centre. The association [FAT] should work out a proposal and submit it to the Fifa board.'' He advised FAT that it should first concentrate on developing its youth squads so that they are able to match the best in the world. ''This would automatically improve the standard of their future national teams.''

Havelange also promised to help FAT in bringing the full Brazilian national team to Thailand. ''They should contact the Brazilian association and I will try my best to help the Thai people's dream of seeing the international Brazilian stars in action here in Thailand come true.''

BY HANIF HASSAN

The Nation

Thai team to face Kiwis 3/6/99

THAILAND'S national soccer team, in preparation for the
Aug 7-15 Brunei SEA Games, will play in a quadrangular
tournament at the Rajamangala National Stadium on June
16 and 19.

Four teams will participate in the two-day meet -- Brazil
All-Stars, the Polish Euro 2000 Qualifying Round
Preparatory team, Oceania champions New Zealand and
hosts Thailand, successive three-time SEA Games
champions.

In a press conference at the Radisson Hotel yesterday,
Vijit Getkaew, the Football Association of Thailand (FAT)
president, said a knockout format will be used in the first
round tussles on June 16, with Thailand facing New
Zealand at 5.30pm and Brazil coming up against Poland
in the second match at 8 pm.

Both the third-place play-off and final will take place on
June 19, starting at 4 pm. Channel 3 will televise both
encounters live.

Vijit said: ''I think that the tournament will be beneficial for
the Thai team before they head to Brunei on July 26 for the
20th SEA Games. I'm convinced our team will retain the
title. However, if we fail to do so, I'm willing to claim
responsibility.''

''In addition, it will be a great honour for the FAT to
welcome former Fifa president Joao Havelange to the
Kingdom on July 13. At 7 pm on the same day, we will be
considering a Thai bid for the Olympics. As something of
a sporting messiah, I hope that he will give our prospects
a boost,'' he added.

Meanwhile, national team manager Virach Charnpanich
expressed confidence in both his senior players and
young stars, and claimed the Thai team will retain the SEA
Games title one more time.

''The senior players who have lost their places in the team
will be given a chance to regain their form. Thawatchai
Damrong-ongtrakul, for instance, is recuperating from a
right leg injury. If he can prove that the injury will soon heal,
and he is fit enough, we will recall him. Unfit centre-half
Nathee Thongsukkaew will also be given a chance to
prove his form,'' Virach claimed.

BY KOMKRIT NAPALAI

The Nation

Thailand aim for World Cup after farce of '98 

By Chris Johnson

BANGKOK, May 26 - Nine months after they were banned for trying -- and failing -- to lose a farcical soccer match against Indonesia, Thailand are developing a new reputation as a team to watch.

Last Saturday, the national team beat English league runners-up Arsenal 4-3 in a friendly that took plenty of Thai supporters and Arsenal's French manager Arsene Wenger by surprise.

Arsenal may have been winding down after another tiring season but the Thais needed few favours to snatch a well-deserved victory.

Thai soccer is improving rapidly and the national squad has been transformed from laughing stock to a well-organised team tipped to win the regional tournament at the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Brunei in August.

They are also likely to be strong contenders in the battle for an Asian qualifying place in the 2002 World Cup -- something that looked quite out of the question last year.

In August, Thailand played Indonesia in the regional Tiger Cup with both sides hoping to lose in order to avoid favourites Vietnam at home in Hanoi in the semifinals.

With the match level at 2-2 in injury time, Indonesian player Mursyid Effendi turned and shot into his own net, past a goalkeeper who made no attempt to save the shot and Thai players trying to guard the Indonesian goal.

Neither team had tried a shot on goal in the first half. 

The fiasco prompted the resignation of the Thai management team and forecasts that Thai soccer would never recover when the country was banned by Asia's governing body in September.

But the disaster was a turning point, with Thailand's ban subsequently lifted on appeal.

Just four weeks before Bangkok hosted the Asian Games in December, Thai football's governing body did a deal with the English Football Association to get the services of former England international Peter Withe as coach.

Withe set to work, instilling in the team a desire to win and the tactical skills needed to play at the highest level.

"Peter Withe has added another dimension to the team and our tactics are improving," said Kiattisak Senamuang, Thailand captain and the striker who scored twice against Arsenal.

"We are using more brain now, passing more and working together. The coach has got us running non-stop. He just says 'Keep it going'," he told Reuters.

Withe has built camaraderie by demanding more commitment from players and has whipped up patriotic enthusiasm.

"Withe has added team spirit and enthusiasm. He has a very good knowledge of the game and tactically they are getting much better," said Roger Crutchley, sports editor of Thailand's main English language daily, the Bangkok Post.

The new attitude paid off at the Asian Games where the Thai team made full use of home advantage to b eat 1998 World Cup finalists South Korea 2-1 in the quarter finals, despite being down to nine men.

"They came from behind and scored in the last few minutes," Crutchley remembers. "Withe was there, pacing up and down the touch line, urging, willing them on and they scored."

Crutchley says Thai players have the necessary skills but need to overcome a natural disadvantage -- their size.

"Thailand played Saudi Arabia a few years ago and the tallest Thai was smaller than the shortest Saudi. With a few more pounds and a few more inches, you could do more with the team," he said.

But Withe argues Thais have other advantages.

"Size isn't everything. The Japanese have adapted and other Asian countries have. There is no reason why they can't develop the game to suit themselves," he told Reuters.

"Asian players have other attributes. They are very supple. Compared to English players in a stretch test, they'd be streets ahead. Flexibility is important because if you are going to volley a ball four feet in the air, you have got to make sure you can
get your foot up there," he said.

Kiattisak, 1.71 metres tall, whose trademark after scoring is a flambuoyant back flip, agrees: "The Thai team is smaller, but it is very fast. Besides, lots of great players are small," he said.

Thailand's next test will be a tournament involving Brazil, Poland and New Zealand in Bangkok in June.

With luck and strong commitment, Withe says Thailand have a chance of qualifying for the 2002 World Cup.

"My ambition is to take Thailand to the World Cup. You only have to look at South Korea to see it can be done...No one dreamed an Asian team would play in the World Cup and all of a sudden there are five or six teams," he said.

"It's all about commitment -- if you go out thinking you can win, anything is possible."
Wenger was made aware of that last Saturday.

"We had a slow start and when we woke up we were two nil down," he told Reuters. "In fairness they played very well and were very motivated. They were very committed."

25/5/99
U-17 World Championship Draw on 14 June in Auckland

The Final Draw for the 5th FIFA U-17 World Championship New Zealand '99 will be held on Monday, 14 June in Auckland.

The Sky City Theatre will provide the stage for the ceremony that is due to start at 8.15 pm.

The 16-team final tournament will be played from 10 to 27 November 1999 in New Zealand.
FIFA.com

Splendid Thailand spike the guns of Arsenal 23/5/99

MANCHESTER United had only dashed Arsenal's title
dreams, but a determined Thai national team dealt an
even bigger blow -- they dented the English giant's pride.

Thailand, thanks to a brilliant performance by skipper
Kiertisak Senamuang, upset the Gunners 4-3 in a friendly
match at the Rajamangala National Stadium yesterday.

The match attracted a crowd of more than 50,000 but
most of them were disappointed by a lacklustre show put
up by Arsenal in the first half which saw them fire blanks
most of the time.

The Gunners kept intact the despicable tradition of visiting
English Premier League sides performing well below their
best. Arsenal never played to their potential yesterday and
were rightly punished by the Thais.

Considering the huge cost of the match -- Arsenal
received Bt13 million for the friendly -- it was a big waste.

Arsenal's French coach Arsene Wenger offered a typical
excuse of a beaten side after the match. ''We are here on
a tour after the English season. I am not disappointed by
the result,'' he said.

Thailand took the initiative and went two-up in the first 10
minutes, catching the Arsenal defence off guard.

The first goal came in the fifth minute when England
goalkeeper David Seaman deflected an angular shot by
Seksan Piturat to the far post and Thongchai Akrapong
booted the rebound into the goal.

Five minutes later, Thailand produced a Manchester
United-like set-piece move when Kiertisak headed in a
perfect Krissada Piandit chip from the right.

Arsenal succeeded in pulling one back before the halftime
when Frenchman Emmanuel Petit headed home a cross
from Fredrik Ljungberg in the 30th minute.

Arsenal lost two players in the first half when central
defender Martin Kweon and Patrick Viera, both limping off
the field.

The visitors played marginally better in the second half, but
once again it was Thailand who succeeded in drawing the
first blood with Seksan netting the goal in the 47th minute.

Then Nigerian international Nwakano Kanu, who was
voted man of the match for Arsenal, hit form and was
unstoppable. He reduced the margin in the 49th minute on
a pass from Kaba Diawara.

Kanu had more in store for the Thai fans as he helped
Arsenal even at 3-3 three minutes later when he was set
up by Luie Boa Morte following a bad clearance by
Chukiart Noohsalung.

The home team winner came three minutes from time
when the Thai man of the match Kiertisak pounced on a
loose ball inside the box and planted it into the net.

Wenger was full of praise for Kanu and Kiertisak after the
match. ''If we had Kanu from the start of the last season we
would have won the Premier League title,'' he said.

He also commended the Thai team's performance. ''They
were very committed. Now that they have gained the
experience and a good result, they should try develop their
skills further.''

Peter Withe, coach of the Thai national team, said: ''I am
not surprised that Arsenal lost today. They played a match
against Malaysia a few days ago and must have been
tired.

''Our team did very well today and I see it as a very good
result for them before they defend their title at the Brunei
SEA Games.''

The 20th SEA Games will be staged in August this year
and the Thai team start training for the event on June 10.

BY HANIF HASSAN and

KOMKRIT NAPALAI

The Nation

CLICK HERE for more news about Super Match

Wales cry off from 4-nation tournament   5/5/99

WALES have pulled out of a four-nation tournament scheduled for June to celebrate the 72nd Birthday of HM the King.

Football Association of Thailand (FAT) secretary general Worawi Makudi said yesterday that the Welsh federation had conveyed their decision by fax on Monday. Wales say they will not be able to put a team together for the tournament as they have to release the players to their respective clubs after the Euro 2000 qualifiers in June.

The withdrawal should come as a big disappointment for the local fans of Manchester United's Welsh star Ryan Giggs.

Worawi said the vacant spot would be filled by Poland, who have ''promised to bring the same squad that is participating in the Euro 2000 qualifiers''.

The two other sides taking part in the tournament, which will take place on June 16 and 19 at the Rajamangala National Stadium, are Oceania champions New Zealand and a selection of Brazilian league players. The Brazilian selection will be accompanied by former Fifa president Joao Havelange.

Worawi added that a decision as to which team would host the first game of the home-and-away Asia group nine qualifying matches for the 2000 Olympic Games between Thailand and India wouldl be taken on May 26. The two matches have been cheduled for July 17 and 24. 

The Nation

Taunted, trained and ready to go 24/4/99

DURING the last week, 20 footballers were chosen to represent Thailand in the Sydney Olympics Asia Zone qualifiers, each one determined to avenge Thailand's stunning 5-0 defeat in the opening match of the 1995 Atlanta Olympiad qualifying tournament.

Although Thailand managed to get their act together in the following matches, the defeat dashed any chance they had of making it to the Atlanta Olympic Games.

The team's failure was, of course, the country's failure, and since the squad was known locally as the dream team,  each goal was like a knife in Thai hearts. The outcome of the last qualifying tournament left Thai football in a depression which it has only just started to come out of.

Although cynics may suggest that the present bunch can't do any worse, a lot of time and money has already been spent on making sure that this years' qualifiers have a more positive outcome for the Kingdom. 

In fact, training for this year's Asia Zone Group nine matches started as long ago as Jan 6, when 32 outstanding players reported to the FAT office.

Although Thailand's preperations have gone well, the country recieved a setback when the tournament date was suspended when Laos withdrew from the meet, claiming economic dificulties would make it impossible for them to send a team.

Shortly after, India launched a bid to co-host the tournament, whereby a two-legged round-robin competition would be held in Thailand and India.

However, the two countries reached a compromise when the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) decided that the Kingdom was a more suitable host. Still, the tournament was postponed until July.

Calamity was now on every corner, for Singapore and Brunei declared their intention of backing out, leaving only Thailand and India in to battle for a place in the second round in a two-legged home-and-away format.

Although the tournament has yet to start, the Kingdom's team are continuing with their gruelling training with head coach Piyapong Pew-on and his assistants Boonlert Iamcharoen and Prapol Pongpanich supervising the training for 56 players over the past few months.

During the training sessions, the coach and his team weighed up the players' performances, finally narrowing down the 56 to a squad of 20 who will take part in the tournament.

Whether this 20-player team is good enough to make the Sydney Olympiad remains to be seen, but one thing to be sure of is that the 20 selected players have already proved themselves to be the Kingdom's best and are aware that the country's expectations rest on their shoulders.

GOALKEEPERS

Watcharapong Klaharn: Born on Aug 31, 1980 in Suphan Buri, Watcharapong plays for the Thai Farmers Bank. He has a wealth of international experience and was included in the national team which finished runners-up in the Asian Junior Under-16 Football Championships in 1997, thus clinching a berth in the World Junior Under-17 Football Championships in Egypt.

Watcharapong was also in the Kingdom's Asian Under-19 Football Championship squad last year, but unfortunately crashed out in the preliminary round.

Although he gained valuable experience from the internationals, Watcharapong has yet to show consistent form. At 1.73 metres tall, he is is often considered too short for a goalkeeper while also being overweight and slow.

He is also considered the team's weak point, but still Watcharapong is the best of the teams' three goalkeepers.

Phanuwat Tang-anurat: Born on June 11, 1980, this Sa Kaew-native keeps goal for Krung Thai Bank. However, he is still returning to fitness following a lengthy injury lay-off. At the Asian Junior Under-19 Football Championship in Chiang Mai last year he was offered a place in the starting line-up but was unable to take part
because of his injury.

The fact that he is injured is unfortunate, as at 1.79 metres tall, weighing 68kg, he is the perfect size for a goalkeeper. However, to obtain a place in the starting line-up, Phanuwat will have to work on his physical strength, although he is already a very accomplished goalie.

Amarin Yaodam. This 19-year-old, Songkhla native, plays for Sinthana and also appeared in the national team which took the 1998 Asian Student Football Championship. However, compared with the other goalies, Amarin is still far from impressive. If the others are fit and ready, don't expect Amarin to play a big part. Although he deserved his place in the students' team, he didn't perform well. Moments before the start of the Asian Students meet he was overcome with emotional problems and therefore relegated to the bench.

Judging from his previous performances in warm-up matches and his mental condition, Amarin is not responsible enough for the job as the Olympiad team's goalkeeper.

DEFENDERS

Niruj Surasiang. This Ratchaburi-native plays as a defender for the BEC Tero-Sasana Club, although has been known to play midfield for the Bangkok Metropolitan Club. During the Olympiad qualifying rounds Niruj will play as a winger. Although he is a good player and capable of passing the ball accurately, he needs to concentrate on his attacking skills.

Rangsan Wiwatchaichoke. Born in Bangkok, Rangsan also plays for the BEC Tero-Sasana Club. Despite playing on the left wing, he has been considered unsuited to this position yet still displays excellent form in this position while playing for his club,

Consistentcy is his strong point, particularly when he plays in defence. However, to be a good left-winger he should develop his passing and learn to read the game as quickly as possible. His last performance in this position was not impressive.

Niwes Siriwong: This Nakhon Phanom native plays for Sinthana and is the captain of the Olympiad preparatory team. He can play in any position but is particularly good as a centre-half or defender. Niwes was in the national team that became the Jakarta SEA Games football champions and also claimed fourth place at last year's Asian Games.

Although he is well qualified, Niwes sometimes drifts in and out of the game, is careless and makes the team's defence worse rather than better. 

Apichet Puttan: A 19-year-old Samut Prakarn native, Apichet is with the Ucom-Rajpracha Club and plays on the left wing with the Olympiad preparatory team. He is one of the team's more skilful players, particularly when going forward.

Nonetheless, his aggressive play does create major problems. He often recieves red cards and should learn to control his temper.

Chakkapong Harnsuwan: This 22-year-old Nakhon Si Thammarat native plays for Osotspa. He is a hefty player and thus slow. This seriously affects his game when he plays in defence against speedy opponents.

Sattrapai Srinarong: This Trat native was born on Dec 7, 1977. He plays for Sinthana and was instrumental in helping the team to win Division A recently. However, while playing as a wing-back he is not impressive. He is said to prefer playing in attack rather than defence.

He also lacks stamina and performs dismally in defence, while his attacking skills are said to need major improvement.

Peeratut Phoruandee: Born in Lop Buri on March 15, 1979, Peeratut excells as a stopper. Although he is very good in the air, he still needs to learn about positioning. 


Natthapong Rujeethanus: This 22-year-old Bangkokian plays for Bangkok Bank. Although new on the Thai footballing scene, he has lots of national experience. He also played in the 1996 Thailand League and the recent FA Cup, both of which were won by his club team.

Regarding his display as a stopper in warm-up games, he looks overexcited. He still needs more time to adjust himself to conditions. If he improves in the near future, he is expected to combine well with centre-halfs and the goalkeeper.

Pitakpong Chaipradit: This 22-year-old Chiang Mai native plays for Osotspa. At the beginning of the year he received a lot of attention as he was involved in the King's Cup tournament. However, following some major disagreements, he withdrew from selection.

Although he made a comeback for the Olympiad preparatory team's midfield, since he is tall and fat this often affects his performance, particularly while battling for the ball against the opponents.

BY KOMKRIT NAPALAI

The Nation

Thailand to make bid for Asian Cup 17/4/99

THAILAND will offer to host the 12th Asian Cup Football if
the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) cancels Lebanon
as the venue and China, the next country in line, turns
down the opportunity to stage the event.

The Football Association of Thailand (FAT) is confident of
getting the chance as it feels that the Kingdom has
adequate venues and other qualifications to stage such a
mega event.

According to the FAT secretary-general, Worawi Makudi,
Lebanon's right to host the 12th Asian Cup is in jeopardy
as their stadiums and equipment do not meet AFC
standards.

''Lebanon asked the AFC if they could reduce the
standard size of stadiums, but they can't because they
have to follow the AFC's rules. The AFC committee will
meet Lebanese officials on May 10 to 11 to find out their
problems and then give its confirmation of the host on May
26 in Kuala Lumpur. If Lebanon is not the venue, China will
get the chance, but China has not shown any readiness,''
Worawi said.

The qualifying round of the 12th Asian Cup will be played
at the end of this year. There will be ten groups. The
winner of each group will earn a place in the final round.
Saudi Arabia, the defending champion, and Lebanon, the
host, get automatic entry to the final.

The teams

Group 1: Iraq, Oman, Tajikistan, Kyrgystan

Group 2: Iran, Syria, Bahrain, Maldives

Group 3: UAE, Uzbekistan, India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh

Group 4: Qatar, Kazakhstan, Jordan, Pakistan, Palestine

Group 5: Kuwait, Turkmenistan, Yemen, Nepal, Bhutan

Group 6: South Korea, Myanmar, Laos, Mongolia

Group 7: Indonesia, Hong Kong, Combodia

Group 8: Thailand, Malaysia, Taiwan, North Korea

Group 9: China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Guam

Group 10: Japan, Singapore, Macao, Brunei

BY KOMKRIT NAPALAI

The Nation

Sydney round loses 2 more 7/4/99

SINGAPORE and Brunei have reportedly pulled out of the
Asia Zone Group 9 Olympics soccer qualification round,
which was slated to be held later this month in Suphan
Buri.

Laos have already withdrawn from the tournament, leaving
only Thailand and India to fight for the lone place in the
Olympics.

Worawi Makudi, secretary-general of the Football
Association of Thailand (FAT) and team manager, said
yesterday the national team should continue to prepare
with vigour despite the developements as its main goal is
to play in the Olympics.

He said the quadrangular tournament in Malaysia in which
the Thai team is participating has also been postponed
from April 20-28 to April 26-30.

''Our team will compete against Indonesia on April 26, play
South Korea two days later and then hosts Malaysia on
April 30. There is no final. The team with the highest points
will be declared champions,'' he said.

Another quadrangular tournament involving Thailand,
China, Japan and hosts Hong Kong will be held from May
4 to 9, he said.

''I think it will be a test of fitness for our team. We have to
see whether they can cope with strong teams and endure
a lengthy competition schedule,'' he said.

To boost the morale of the players, the team manager is
planning to invite former national players Prasan
Suwannasit, Bampen Latthimon, Samrerng Chaiyong and
Chatchai Phaholpaet, who donned the national colours in
the 1956 Melbourne Games and in the 1968 Mexico
Games, to give current players valuable tips.

BY KOMKRIT NAPALAI

The Nation

Sports Talk: They have a dream (1/4/99)

TO make the professional football league dream come true seems not to be the responsibility of the Football Association of Thailand (FAT) alone now that the Sports
Authority of Thailand (SAT) is apparently taking the matter more seriously than the FAT.

SAT, the brains behind the initiative to introduce a truly professional football league, will today organise a seminar to find out ways and means to make this dream come true. Minister of the PM's Office Jurin Laksanavisit will preside over the seminar which will end at noon at the Radisson Hotel.

The seminar will commence at 10 am with SAT governor Dr Sakchye Tapsuwan and his deputies presenting a report to the minister about how the scheme of the professional football has been handled so far and the outcome of a survey.

FAT president Vijit Getkaew will also be present at the seminar. He will speak in general terms about the concept of professional football. Jurin will speak at the conclusion of the seminar.

Also present at the seminar will the representatives from 10 provinces who have the potential of taking part in the inaugural professional league.

It seems to be a very good move to make the professional football dream come true as the minister himself is taking a great interest in the plan.

I am not expecting that professional football will become a reality within a year or two. But, with SAT, which is a
government body, taking this matter seriously, I do believe that the dream will come to fruition sooner than if we we had let FAT do it alone.

In fact, FAT had tried in vain in the past few years to introduce a semi-professional football league. The league failed to attract the fans. The number of fans at matches
throughout the league turned out to be much less than expected.

FAT should know very well that why the league could not attract the fans and should realise that the most important
factor is the fans themselves. Any league cannot survive without supporters or fans.   The attempt to bring provincial teams to join the professional league is a very good idea because they help create a large following, which is essential to make the league a success.

Football is probably the most popular sport in Thailand. I believe that more than a million Thais play football. We can see that every district has a football team and almost every empty space is occupied by football players.

We can see that many basketball courts almost everywhere have been turned into mini-football grounds. Thai kids love to play football more than basketball.

When I made a trip to the southern province of Yala, where the 1999 National Youth Games took place, last month I
could see that many vacant pieces of land, even the dried paddy fields, were occupied by boys playing football.

During my trip to the south, I also learned from SAT's officers in Surat Thani that they organise a big football tournament every year. There are more than ten teams
taking part and the crowd is always satisfactory.

So, I truly believe that if we really want to have a successful professional league, we should start from the provinces first and let the big provinces, which have SAT offices and stadiums, join in.

I believe that fans would love to see their provinces beat a leading Bangkok-based club rather than watching two Bangkok clubs playing each other.

I believe that provincial teams will have the ability to match the metropolitan teams, if FAT or SAT gave them enough support and provided them with a good coach.
Provincial teams can be managed more easily than the teams in Bangkok, because they will have less logistical costs involved. Above all, I believe that upcountry players will be more eager to train in trying to earn fame for themselves.

I hope that the seminar today will end up with a plan to throw full support to provincial teams and hope that FAT will be able to work out an effective competition programme.

BY PRASERT SRISUEB

The Nation

Thai boys lacklustre in 1-1 tie (23/3/99)

SERIOUS doubts have arisen about Thailand's chances of qualifying for the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games following the lacklustre 1-1 draw against the Malaysian pre-Olympic squad in a warm-up match yesterday.

It was a boring match at the Thai-Japan Youth Welfare Centre, where both sides played some drab soccer in front of a sizeable crowd.

The home team, 3-1 winners over the visitors in the first warm-up match on Sunday at the same venue, found themselves trailing in the 29th minute when Eng Ku slotted home a cross.

The Thai boys needed more than hour to equalise the score. Sutee Suksomkid netted the goal in the final minute on a cross from the right flank by Nirut Suraseang.

The Thai pre-Olympic team management yesterday made no effort at all to veil their disappointment with the squad's performance.

Team manager Worawi Makudi, who is also secretary-general of the Football Association of Thailand,
announced that quite a few changes would be made to the team before they took part in the Asia group-nine qualifiers in July in Suphan Buri.

''I won't comment on the team's performance in today's match, because it is the job of the coach to do so,'' he said, ''but it was pretty clear that some of the players were not suited to international soccer.

''We need to make changes to the squad before the qualifying tournament, especially in defence. I also feel that our strikers are not sharp enough.''

Coach Piyapong Pew-On said: ''I am not interested in the outcome of the match, because we were testing some new boys and a new format. While the team may have to be changed a bit, the format will stay.''

He said he was planning to make at least six changes to the  team that played yesterday.

''I am asking national Asian Games team stopper Panupong Chimpook to join the team, but I'll need confirmation from the association that he is under 21,'' Piyapong added. Only players under 21 are eligible to take part in the Olympic qualifiers.

National-team coach Peter Withe, who watched the match from the stands, said: ''The Thai team failed to put their rivals under pressure, and that was because the defenders didn't move up at all.''

BY KOMKRIT NAPALAI

The Nation

Brazilian blitz lifts Thailand's hopes of final

BRAZIL, who had mercilessly massacred Thailand a  couple of days ago, on Tuesday did the home team a big favour by beating Hungary by a tennis score in their second King's Cup match.

Thailand were left with little chance of qualifying for the final after a 2-2 draw with North Korea in the first match of the day before the Brazilian youth side ran riot again to blitz Hungary 6-0.

The Brazilians have now been assured of a berth in the final of the King's Cup, which will be played on Sunday. 

The home team were staring at a victory when the North Koreans scored two goals in a space of five minutes in the second half to pull off a fantastic draw, leaving Thailand with an uphill task of beating the mighty Hungarians in their last first round match on Thursday.

A sparse crowd at the Rajamangala National Stadium saw Thailand put on a better show than their 4-1 rout at the hands of the Brazilian youth team on Sunday.

The hosts looked set to pick up three points from the match before the North Koreans tightened the noose and came off at the seams.

The home team had a last-minute change of heart when they went back on their earlier decision to bench goalkeeper Saravuth Khambua, who was largely held responsible for the loss to the Brazilians in the curtain-raiser.

Saravuth was once again below par, but luckily escaped unhurt as the North Koreans failed to avail opportunities created by his mistakes.

However, coach Peter Withe sided with Saravuth, saying: ''There was nothing with his goalkeeping. Just because he conceded four goals in a match, one can't say that he is a bad goalkeeper.''

There was another strange decision on the part of the team officials on Tuesday. Young playmaker Thongchai Akrapong, who won praise from Brazil coach Antonio Barroso on Sunday, was rested and his replacement
Seksan Piturat failed to impress.

Thailand went on the offensive from the word go and came  close to scoring in the first 10 minutes when captain Kiertisak Senamuang, Krissada Piandit and Dusit Chalermsaen were all denied by North Korean goalkeeper
Kim Myong-nam.

Their efforts finally bore fruit in the 34th minute when Kanit Acharayothin carried a through pass from Thawatchai Damrong-ongtrakul up from the right. A cracking shot by Kanit slid past Kim and Kiertisak had no trouble in tapping the ball into the goal.

The second Thai goal was also scored on a long ball when Pattanapong Sripramote set up Chaichan Kheowsen in the 68th minute. The North Korean players and bench protested that Chaichan had committed a handball, but the referee refused to change his decision.

The North Koreans went on the attack and Seksan fouled a North Korean player just outside the box to concede a free kick. Kang Sun-il planted the ball into the goal. The Thai players protested that the referee had signalled an indirect free kick, a charge denied by match referee Mohammad Sukri Mat Amin of Malaysia.

Five minutes later, Ri Hyok-chul broke free from Krissada and Panupong Chimpook to net the equaliser.  Thailand had a couple of opportunities in the dying moments of the match, which they failed to convert.

Commenting on the match, Withe said: ''I was disappointed by the way we played towards to end of the match. Otherwise it was good performance by the team. We passed well and kept possession of the ball most of
the time.

''All credit goes to the North Koreans for putting up such a brave fightback. They were two goals down, but still managed to draw the match. They did it against the Hungarians on Sunday, and they did the same against us
today.

''We kind of wilted under pressure. When you give away the ball, your rivals are bound to take their chances.''

North Korea coach Kim Myong-song said: ''Thailand are strong team, but we are also not a weak team. I think the draw is a fair result.''

STANDINGS

P W D L F A Pts

Brazil 2 2 - - 10 1 6

N Korea 2 - 2 - 4 4 2

Thailand 2 - 1 1 3 6 1

Hungary 2 - 1 1 2 8 1

BY HANIF HASSAN AND KOMKRIT NAPALAI

The Nat

Brazil thrash Thailand in opening encounter

A JADED Brazilian pre-Olympic squad on Sunday exposed Thailand's defensive weaknesses so vividly in a 4-1 drubbing that it provoked suggestions from the home team officials to make changes to the squad.

Goalkeeper Sarawuth Khambua was much below par and so were the team's defenders, who could do little to thwart the Brazilian attacks. It would have been a respectable scoreline had the Thai strikers were not wayward.

It is not that the local boys sat back and let the Brazilians weave their Samba magic, but apart from a goal from Asiad Games hero Thawatchai Damrong-ongtrakul in the second half they did not have things going their way.

Team manager Virat Chanpanich was clearly angered by the result, but still managed to mellow his threat of changing the squad -- especially the goalkeeper -- ''We should give a chance to the others in the team, too.''

Also missing on Sunday at the Rajamangala National Stadium was the crowd support. Even a couple of cheer-leaders, dressed in fancy costumes and wearing colourful hair-dos, who had rallied tens of thousands behind them to back the home team failed to get the 15,000-plus crowd going despite their desperate efforts time and again.

Peter Withe, the English coach of the national team who normally oozes with enthusiasm, was as philosophical as a coach could get after such a hammering.

''The Thai people should understand that soccer is a tradition for the Brazilians,'' he said. ''They won their first World Cup a long time ago, while soccer was still being played at an amateur level in Thailand.

''The Brazilians -- doesn't matter if it is their under-16 team or the national team -- play great soccer. I think the Thai players have a lot to learn from them; how simple they are in everything they do and how they run for each other.

''In fact, I would say that the Thai players have a lot to learn from this tournament,'' he said.

Commenting on the performance of his team, Withe said: ''The final scoreline does not do justice to the effort the players put in. We created five or six very good scoring opportunities, but could score only one. The Brazilians, on the other hand, took their chances. This is something else we have to learn.

''In the end that fourth goal killed off the match for us. But I am glad the boys kept fighting and running throughout the game.''

Striker Rodrigo Gral was signalled off-side by a linesman but the raised flag went unnoticed and he set up playmaker Luis Eduardo to net the fourth for the Brazilians   in the 84th minute.

The match could have ended with a tennis score in favour of the Brazilians as they narrowly missed by hitting the bar once in each half.

Earlier, the Brazilians started briskly and they were one-up in the eighth minute when a defensive blunder led to a feeble kick by Fernando Santos, which, to the shock and dismay of the crowd, Saravuth failed to stop from rolling into the net.

The second Brazilian goal was a product of a mistake by defender Pattanapong Sripramote. He lost the ball to Eduardo who slid it to Ronaldo Moreira for a shot at the goal. The ball was deflected by Chakarat Thonhongsa and Gral was given ample time by the home team defenders to get off the ground and boot the ball into the goal.

Thailand had their chances to score. Skipper Kiertisak Senamuang worked hard upfront and he cannot escape taking the blame for wasting a number of scoring opportunities. His striking partner Vorawuth Srimakka's only contribution in the match was a shot straight to goalkeeper Julio Espindola from a point-blank range late
in the first half.

The hosts pulled one back when Dusit Chalermsaen, also lacklustre for most of the match on Sunday, lobbed a ball for Thawatchai to tap it past Espindola in the 56th minute. 
The Thais played a much improved game in the second half, but could not stop the Brazilians from netting two more -- both by Eduardo.

While praising the Thai team, especially Kiertisak and midfielder Thongchai Akrapong, Brazilian coach Antonio Barroso said: ''It turned out to be a tough match for us.

''The players were tired after a 36-hour journey and arrived only yesterday. I am happy that the players were able to maintain their form and win the match.''

He added: ''I think Thailand have some good players and a very good coach. A bright future lies ahead of them.''  Brazilians play their next match on Tuesday against Hungary, who on Sunday drew North Korea 2-2 in their first game of the tournament. Thailand take on North Korea on the same day.

BY HANIF HASSAN and

KOMKRIT NAPALAI

The Nation

FAT invites Brazilians to King's Cup 3/2/99

FOOTBALL Association of Thailand (FAT) secretary-general Worawi Makudi said on Tuesday that the 1998 World Cup runners-up Brazil might appear in the 30th King's Cup Soccer Championship in Bangkok.

During his trip to attend the Fifa meeting in Zurich, Switzerland, last week, Worawi invited Brasil Football Association president to send the country's squad to join the four-team tournament.

Brazil will confirm their appearance in the Cup, scheduled from Feb 21 to 27, this week. Brazil might send either their full team or the pre-Olympics squad, Worawi said.

In case the team turn down the invitation, Worawi would select either Tunisia or Morocco to fill in the final place in the draw which comprise South Korea, Hungary and the hosts.

''To bring in Brazil, we have contacted Nike Thailand to help us negotiate with the Brazilian federation since Nike sponsors their national squad. Hopefully, we will receive a good news,'' the FAT secretary-general said.

''However, Tunisia and Morocco have already confirmed that they are willing to take part in the tournament if Brazil refuse to participate. So we will still have good teams in this tournament,'' he added.

Meanwhile, FAT has received a nod from the Sports Authority of Thailand (SAT) to work on a plan to develop local football at professional level. FAT will work out a plan  to this end with government support and a possible help from the private sector.

BY KOMKRIT NAPALAI

The Nation

Brazilians are coming -- it's confirmed (7/2/99)

THE Football Association of Thailand (FAT) on Saturday confirmed that Brazil had accepted its invitation to participate in the Feb 21-27 King's Cup and would be sending their pre-Olympics squad.

It is the first time that a national team from the perenniel soccer powerhouse will be playing in a tournament in the Kingdom.

Brazil, who are scheduled to arrive on Feb 18, will play their first match of the four-nation, single-league tournament against the hosts on Feb 21. All the matches are scheduled to be played at the 60,000-seat
Rajamangala National Stadium.

Brazil, who are looking forward to make up for the shock loss to the Nigerians in the 1996 Atlanta Games in Sydney next year, have yet to submit the list of their players to FAT.

The two other countries participating in the tournament are Hungary and North Korea.

The first round battles, in which all four participating sides will calsh with each other once, are scheduled to go on until Feb 25. The third-place playoff and final are scheduled to be played on Feb 27.

FIXTURES:
Feb 21 -- Thailand v Brazil, North Korea v Hungary
Feb 23 -- Brazil v Hungary, Thailand v North Korea
Feb 25 -- Brazil v North Korea, Thailand v Hungary
Feb 27 -- Third-place playoff, final.

Withe wields the big stick

WITH less than month to go before the 30th Kings Cup, the Thai football team is having a bumpy ride in its preparations: just 18 players reported for training on Tuesday. English coach Peter Withe has decided to wield
the big stick and says he will maintain strict discipline and  dismiss the absentees.

The King's Cup is scheduled to be played from Feb 21 to 27 in Bangkok, where three major teams, including China and Iran, will join the hosts. A team from either Europe or Africa will also be invited.

After light warm-up training, Withe said, hard training will start next week as some of the missing players said they would join the squad after taking care of personal commitments.

''I couldn't practice much this week, but next week will be different. We have three warm-up matches to play before the Cup, and then we will see how many players have the potential to become our national players. Howeve r, those who are absent will be dimissed,'' Withe said.

The King's Cup squad is scheduled to play a warm-up match against Thai Farmers Bank tomorrow.

Menwhile manager Virach Chanpanich said the team's performance would be judged by the fans. 

''If they train hard but are unsuccessful in the game, it will be fine, but if they prepare poorly, they will be punished by the fans,'' he said.

When asked to comment on a report that Withe would be appointed to supervise Thailand's Olympic team, Football Association of Thailand president Vijit Getkaew said: ''The Olympic team's staff coaches have to send me a report on the training, and we've already asked our staff to do its job. However, if it is necessary to have Withe supervise the Olympic team, we will ask him to consider the matter.'' 
BY KOMKRIT NAPALAI

The Nation

Bangkok Land gives 120 rai of land to FAT

BANGKOK Land CEO Anant Kanjanapas has donated 120 rai of land at the Muang Thong Thani Sports Complex to the Football Association of Thailand (FAT) for use as an association office and practice venue for the national
team.

The donated land, the venue for last month's Asian Games, features a 5,000-capacity rugby ground, a swimming pool, a weightlifting stadium and space for nine soccer pitches.

''This will give the national soccer team a place to practice and encamp. The rugby and weightlifting stadiums will also provide offices for the FAT,'' said Anant. 

Anant also expects the land to be used to organise international competitions and suggests a hotel should be built within the compound to accommodate officials and athletes.

Both FAT and Bangkok Land are to use the venue to stage the 1999 32-team National Indoor Five-a-Side Soccer Championships, from which they will seek representatives for the Asian Championships in March.

''The competition will be held to select five players to compete in the Asian Championships in Malaysia from March 4 to 14. We initially expect to spend around Bt1.5 million on this tournament, but we will know more next week,'' said FAT president Vijit Getkaew.

Meanwhile FAT secretary-general Woravi Makudi disclosed that the FA Cup would be held from March 6 to 13 and be open to 32 teams. The IMG company, responsible for competition marketing, confirmed that the
winning team would be awarded Bt1 million and the runners-up Bt500,000, even though the competition has yet too find a sponsor owing to the economic crisis.

He added that Bt2 million would also be offered to the winner of the match between the FA Cup winners and the Caltex Premier League champions, Sinthana.

Regarding the national team's preparations for the Olympic Games, head coach Piyapong Pew-on said that staff coaches had agreed to select the national team from 50 players. He said that team managers would decide the number of team-members and the official selection meeting would be held on Jan 6 at the FAT headquarters.
Boonlert Aeocharoen (midfielder), Prapol Pongpanich  (defender), Piyapong (striker and overall tactics adviser) and Sompong Nanthaprapasil (goalkeeper) will then take charge of the team.

In addition FAT will host Group 9 of the Olympic football Asian qualifying tournament, including Thailand, Laos, Brunei, Singapore and India, from March 15 to 27 at Suphan Buri's provincial stadium.

The association will also host the Thailand International Youth Football Festival in mid-July. The competition will include 100 teams from 10 different countries.

BY KOMKRIT NAPALAI

The Nation