|12 MAY 2001 16:00 TST. Impact Arena, MuangThong Thani Complex, Bangkok|
|Ticket Prices: 200, 400, 600, 800|
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THAILAND 5:6 FRANCE
|- BEACH SOCCER NATIONAL TEAM 2001|
Cantona the hat-trick hero
Former Manchester United star Eric Cantona scored a dramatic late hat-trick as the French national beach soccer team beat Thailand 7-5 in front of a capacity 7,000 crowd at the Impact Arena, Muang Thong Thani yesterday.
As he did so often during his reign at United, Cantona stole the show by grabbing three late goals just when Thailand looked as through they might win the exhibition match 5-4.
"Cantona was puffing. He seemed tired and unfit but we love him," said elated fan Surapong as the thousands of football fanatics left the indoor stadium at the end of the game.
"Beach football is great. I love it," said another fan leaving the stadium where truck loads of sand had been brought in for the game.
Cantona, 34, recently crowned the best player in Manchester United's history, has become one of the principal ambassadors of beach soccer, an action-packed sport that may even be included in the programme for the 2008 Olympic Games.
"Ooh.. ahh.. Cantona," read multiple flags fluttering among the enthusiastic crowd.
For the record the other French goals were scored by Mamadou Faye, Franck Bonora (two) and Bernard Pascual while Apisit Khaikaew, Pattaya Piekum, Chollatid Krudtieng (two) and Yutthana Pollasak were on target for Thailand.
Thai team manager Adisak Benjasiriwon said: "Considering this was our first experience of beach soccer, I think the team did very well.
"In the future beach soccer will surely attract many players and fans."Thai player-coach Piyapong Piew-on admitted that he was still very impressed by Cantona.
"He is still a very dangerous player and has retained all his technique and football skill."Cantona was mobbed by fans immediately after the game and did not give an interview to the waiting media contingent.
by Tor Chittinand Bangkok Post
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