Jankovic upbeat about Thailand's chances

Jankovic upbeat about Thailand's chances

Thailand's U23 team take part in a training session yesterday. PR
Thailand's U23 team take part in a training session yesterday. PR

Thailand coach Zoran Jankovic believes his team has the ability to beat North Korea in the first match of the AFC U23 Championship in China on Jan 10.

The Kingdom have been drawn in Group B along with defending champions Japan, North Korea and Palestine.

Despite their 1-0 loss against the North Koreans in the M-150 Cup in Buriram last month, Jankovic insisted his team have a good chance of turning things around when the two teams meet again next Wednesday.

"We played them in the warm-up tournament in Buriram last month and lost. But we made a lot of changes in that game after the Japan match. I think if we had used all of our first-team players we could have beaten them.

"It will be a tough game but we are better prepared now," added the Bulgarian.

Jankovic also said he would have to make do with the squad that is missing some of its key players for the championship.

Shinnaphat Leeaoh, Phitiwat Sukjitthammakul and Suriya Singmui withdrew from the squad citing injuries so did Kannarin Thawornsak while Noppol Pholkum will miss the North Korea game because of suspension.

"I'm happy with the team we have... to a certain degree. We do not have Shinnaphat, who impressed during the M-150 Cup against Japan, in the team. His absence will impact the team. We will also miss Phitiwat and Suriya, who are both great players.

"We also don't have Kannarin because of injury while Noppol is suspended for the North Korea game. If all of them were available, they would have made a big difference to the team.

"But it is what it is and we will have to use the players we have the best we can."

The team departs for Shanghai this morning. They will be training at Jinshan Sports Centre until Saturday and will have a warm-up game with Australia.

The tournament runs from Jan 9-27.

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