Thai football players 'can tame Dragons'

Thai football players 'can tame Dragons'

Thai players train at the Le Meridien Suvarnabhumi hotel on Monday.
Thai players train at the Le Meridien Suvarnabhumi hotel on Monday.

Thailand coach Milovan Rajevac said on Monday the War Elephants are capable of beating China in a warm-up match at Rajamangala National Stadium on Saturday.

The Thai players began training on Monday ahead of the match against China, who are under the guidance of 2006 World Cup-winning coach Marcello Lippi.

"This is an important game for our team because it offers world ranking points,'' Serbia's Rajevac said.

"China are ranked higher than Thailand. I want every player to show to Thai football fans that we can beat a higher-ranked team like China."

China, dubbed the Red Dragons by the Thai press, are No.73 and Thailand No.122 in the latest Fifa rankings.

Rajevac said China are strong as their authorities have invested a lot in the domestic league and national team.

"We have to prove that we can play against a team of this level," said the Serb.

"Lippi is a great coach but we often play well on home soil."

The coach has included three overseas-based stars -- goalkeeper Kawin Thammasatchanan, striker Teerasil Dangda and midfielder Chanathip Songkrasin -- in the team that is training at the Le Meridien Suvarnabhumi hotel.

Lippi, who steered Italy to victory in the 2006 World Cup, and his players arrived in Bangkok yesterday.

"We are here to play our best football. It is part of our preparations for the Asian Cup [next year]," said the Italian.

He said the squad is a mixture of experienced and young players.

"We want to give young players an opportunity. They could be in our team for the Asian Cup," he said.

Tickets for the match are priced at baht 100 and 500 and available at Thai Ticket Major outlets.

Meanwhile, in-form striker Jamie Maclaren has joined Australia's World Cup training camp in Turkey as injury cover after being a surprise omission from the squad, Football Federation Australia said yesterday.

The Germany-based player was selected in coach Bert van Marwijk's 32-player preliminary squad before being axed when it was reduced to 26, despite scoring plenty of goals during a loan spell with Scotland's Hibernian this year.

He joins the squad in Antalya amid injury doubts over forward Tomi Juric. Dutchman van Marwijk said he will use this week to assess Maclaren's form ahead of naming his final 23-man squad by June 4.

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