Eyes on Nishino to deliver on Thursday night

Eyes on Nishino to deliver on Thursday night

Vietnam upbeat on eve of Cup qualifier

Thailand coach Akira Nishino (left) and goalkeeper Siwarak Tedsungnoen attend a press conference on Wednesday.
Thailand coach Akira Nishino (left) and goalkeeper Siwarak Tedsungnoen attend a press conference on Wednesday.

Thailand coach Akira Nishino is hoping that the War Elephants' miserable recent record against regional foes Vietnam will change on Thursday when the two sides clash in their opening 2022 World Cup qualifier.

Thailand, once regarded as the kings of Southeast Asian football, have been winless against Vietnam this year at all levels and in both genders.

However, Nishino didn't predict a victory in Thursday's match at Thammasat Stadium as he rued the lack of time he has had with the Thai national squad.

"This will be my first game as the head coach of the Thai national team, and although I have had a very short time, I will try my best to help Thailand post a good result," Nishino told a press conference on Wednesday.

The Japanese also named Buriram United goalkeeper Siwarak Tedsungnoen as the national team captain, effectively ending any chance of Belgium-based Kawin Thamsatchanan featuring in the match.

"I have chosen Siwarak as the new captain of the team. He has lots of international experience and is the most senior player in the team," explained Nishino.

Nishino is likely to depend on three J-League-based stars -- Chanathip Songkrasin, Theerathon Bunmathan and Thitiphan Puangjan -- in Thailand's first Group G match, which will start at 7pm and will be televised live by Thai Rath TV (32).

The veteran coach, who took Japan to the last 16 round at the 2018 World Cup, added: "I have seen the tapes of Thailand's game with Vietnam in the King's Cup [in June]. We were never underdogs to them, we just didn't have a good scorer.

"The domestic leagues are dominated by foreign strikers, so my options have been very limited in this department. However, we have a highly talented group of 23 players and many of them are capable of scoring."

Supachai Chaided is the only striker in the team.

Vietnamese coach Park Hang-Seo was cautiously upbeat on the eve of the match.

"This game will be different from the King's Cup because it is a World Cup qualifier and has a different kind of pressure. But we are in a very confident mood," the South Korean said.

"We have been able to produce better results than the Thais of late, but this Thailand team is different. They have a different coach as well."

Park would not be drawn into commenting on the spying scandal.

"That video clip was the work of the media. We have no control over such things," said Park who steered Vietnam to the Southeast Asian title last year and took them to the quarter-finals of the 2019 Asian Cup.

"We are more focused on the match. We are facing a team which is eager to settle a score with us, but we are not overly worried about the result.

"Although Chanathip is a very good player who is in good form, we have no plans to mark him alone."

The other teams in Group G are the United Arab Emirates, Indonesia and Malaysia.

Thailand next travel to Indonesia on Tuesday.

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