Tanaboon bets on youth to deliver at regional tourney
Thailand midfielder Tanaboon Kesarat is convinced that the presence of a large number of young and inexperienced players in the national squad for the forthcoming Suzuki Cup can turn out to be "a blessing in disguise" for the War Elephants.
Thailand begin the defence of their Southeast Asian football crown against Timor Leste on Nov 9 at Bangkok's Rajamangala Stadium.
The Thais, who are training under the supervision of Serbian coach Milovan Rajevac, have been drawn in Group B along with Timor Leste, Indonesia, the Philippines and Singapore for the round-robin phase of the tournament.
The top two teams of Group A and Group B advance to the semi-finals of the biennial event.
The 25-year-old Tanaboon and Mongkol Thossakrai are the most experienced players in the side as they seek to become the first pair to win three Suzuki Cup titles in a row after their success with the national team in 2014 and 2016.
The two-time defending champions War Elephants will be without four Japan and Belgium-based players -- playmaker Chanathip Songkrasin, striker Teerasil Dangda, wing-back Theerathon Bunmathan and goalkeeper Kawin Thamsatchanan.
The Suzuki Cup falls outside Fifa international match calendar so clubs cannot be forced to released their players.
After yesterday's training session, Tanaboon said: "Most of the players in this team may not have played in the Suzuki Cup before but they have participated in some other tournaments, so we are not worried about their lack of experience.
"In fact, I think it could be a blessing in disguise for the team as most of them would be eager to impress and prove themselves at the Asean level. We can succeed again if we play with our hearts and passion. That is the most important thing.
"There is no lack of motivation when you play for the national team and the two things that can mar our performance are always fear and nerves.
"When I played in this tournament for the first time in 2014, I was also very nervous but I tried my best on the pitch. I want to tell every young player that confidence comes with courage.
"I also want to stress to them to never ever underestimate their opponents at all. In football, a single mistake can turn the things around so we would have to stay focused throughout every match."
The Bangkok Glass midfielder also cautioned the demanding Thai fans against raising their expectations too high. "Winning the title at this level is not easy," said Tanaboon.