Somyot tells stars to fight for Thai pride
Football Association of Thailand (FAT) president Somyot Poompunmuang yesterday reminded the senior team players that "national pride will be at stake" when they take on Iraq in a 2018 World Cup qualifier in Bangkok next week.
Somyot was talking to 24 national team players who reported for a nine-day training camp at Kiarti Thanee Country Club which started yesterday.
Star midfielder Chanathip Songkrasin, who plays for Japanese side Consadole Sapporo, will join the team on Sunday.
Thailand are scheduled to play Iraq next Thursday at Rajamangla National Stadium and will then travel to Melbourne for their last Group B match against Australia on Sept 5.
Both Thailand and Iraq are out of contention for a place in the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
After eight matches, Thailand are at the bottom of the Group B table with two points from draws with Australia and the United Arab Emirates.
Iraq are fifth in the six-team group which is led by Japan who have 17 points.
They are followed by Saudi Arabia and Australia, who both have 16 points.
Somyot said: "I realise the results of the last two matches won't take us to the  World Cup finals.
"But national pride will be at stake in these games so I expect the players to put in their efforts and produce good results.
"I believe that if we concentrate and work hard, we can create history in front of our home crowd by beating Iraq."
While stressing on unity among the team, Thailand coach Milovan Rajevac said he wanted all the players to enjoy the training camp and reproduce the form that helped them win the prestigious King's Cup last month.
"First, we came so close to registering a historic win over the UAE but conceded an equaliser in injury time [in a 1-1 draw]," said Rajevac.
"Later we won the King's Cup and conceded only one goal in the tournament which is a great achievement. But Iraq and Australia are both strong teams. If we can win both matches, it will kickstart a new era of football development in Thailand.
"Now that players from Muang Thong United have joined the team, I believe we will be able to pose stronger challenges to both Iraq and Australia."