Nishino to hitch his wagon to star trio

Nishino to hitch his wagon to star trio

Thitipan Puangjan (left) and Chanathip Songkrasin celebrate a goal. (Reuters photo)
Thitipan Puangjan (left) and Chanathip Songkrasin celebrate a goal. (Reuters photo)

New national coach Akira Nishino has praised the three Japan-based Thai stars who he said will be among the main players in his War Elephants squad.

The trio, who are playing in the J-League, are Chanathip Songkrasin (Consadole Sapporo), Theerathon Bunmathan (Yokohama F Marinos) and Thitiphan Puangjan (Trinita Oita).

The 64-year-old Japanese was appointed coach of the Thai senior and U23 sides last week.

"Playing in the J-League proves the three players have potential. I expect that they will be my main players for the Thai national team,'' Nishino said on Monday.

"Regarding the other players, I want to watch them play and see their performances. The most important thing for players of the national team is that they must have spirit and dignity to play for their country."

His first task will be the qualifying round for the 2020 World Cup with Thailand hosting Vietnam in their opening game.

The other teams in their group are the United Arab Emirates, Indonesia and Malaysia. The eight group winners and four best second-placed teams advance to the next round.

The coach, who guided Japan to the last 16 round of the 2018 World Cup, said although he does not have much time to prepare the team to face Vietnam, his job is made easier because of the availability of a number of good Thai players.

Over the years, Thailand have struggled to score due to paucity of fine strikers and the fact that the domestic league is dominated by foreign marksmen.

"It is the same problem everywhere in Asia. In the J-League, many teams also use foreign strikers," Nishino said.

SCG Muang Thong United star Teerasil Dangda has been Thailand's No.1 striker for years but has struggled to find the back of the net for his club and country.

Young star Supachai Chaided is seen as his successor but the Buriram United forward has scored only two goals in the league this season.

Earlier, Nishino said the Thai players had the ability to make it to the World Cup finals and the Olympics.

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