War Elephants promise 'all-out effort'
Kiatisak drops hint Peerapat might fill in for suspended skipper Theerathon in Tuesday's match
As Thailand coach Kiatisak Senamuang mulls a few changes to the team, his players have vowed to make "an all-out effort" in their 2018 World Cup qualifier against Japan on Tuesday.
The Thai national team landed in Japan on Friday, a night after suffering a 3-0 home defeat to Saudi Arabia in their sixth Group B match of Asia's final stage of qualifiers for Russia 2018, and trained for the first time on Saturday.
The War Elephants have so far had a campaign to forget with a 2-2 draw at home against Australia being the only bright spot among a spate of defeats.
After losing five games, Thailand are also the only side in the last 12-team stage yet to win a match and only have one point to their credit as they sit at the bottom of Group B.
Japan, on the other hand, are fresh from their 2-0 win over the United Arab Emirates in Al Ain on Thursday and have 13 points, the same as Saudi Arabia who top the group because of a better goal difference.
Kiatisak allowed his players to rest yesterday morning and in the evening, they had a light training session at the home ground of Omiya Ardija, a J-League 1 team in Saitama.
Kiatisak's biggest worry at the moment is picking a replacement for skipper and defender Theerathon Bunmathan, who is suspended for Tuesday's match in Saitama after collecting his second yellow card in the clash with Saudi Arabia.
Kiatisak called up Chonburi midfielder Nurul Sriyankem as a replacement for Theerathon, but chances are that he will opt for SCG Muang Thong United defender Peerapat Notechaiya.
The Thai coach said: "Although Theerathon has been suspended for the game with Japan, we have Peerapat who can fill in for him.
"During Muang Thong's last match [against Ulsan Hyundai of South Korea] in the AFC Champions League, Peerapat replaced Theerathon when he got injured and did well.
"We already have a full-time left back, but who will lead our attack on the left flank, we will decide later.
"There may be some other changes in the team but we will decide on the starting line-up after two or three days."
After yesterday's training session, Kiatisak added that he was hoping his players would be able to put the memories of the loss to Saudi Arabia behind them.
"We are up against another strong team in a few days and the players cannot keep on dwelling on that defeat," he said.
"We lost to one of the top Asian teams and we have to play Japan now. There are no easy games for us at this level.
"I am happy to have received assurances from the team members that they will make an all-out effort against the Japanese. I am not sure what will be the outcome of the match, but we are ready to make things difficult for the home team. We will make them fight for every ball."
Kiatisak added he has received some tips from Football Association of Thailand technical chairman Witthaya Laohakul, a former player and coach in Japan, and will put them to use in training.
Thailand lost 2-0 to Japan in the Bangkok leg last year.
The top two teams of Group A and Group B earn tickets to Russia 2018. The two third-placed teams meet in a play-off with the winners facing a Concacaf side for another berth.