Rajamangala will be ready for AFC U23 meet

Rajamangala will be ready for AFC U23 meet

Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn (centre), SAT Governor Gongsak Yodmani (left) and FAT chief Somyot Poompunmuang (right) inspect Rajamangala National Stadium on Monday.
Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn (centre), SAT Governor Gongsak Yodmani (left) and FAT chief Somyot Poompunmuang (right) inspect Rajamangala National Stadium on Monday.

Tourism and Sports Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn is confident that Rajamangala National Stadium will be ready for next year's AFC U23 Championship.

Phiphat, accompanied by Sports Authority of Thailand (SAT) governor Gongsak Yodmani and Football Association of Thailand (FAT) president Somyot Poompunmuang, on Monday inspected the stadium which will host some of the AFC U23 Championship games in January.

The visit came in the wake of the news that Chiang Mai 700th Anniversary Stadium has been dropped from the list of venues for the tournament.

The move followed an official confirmation from the contractor that the renovation work at the stadium will not finish in time for the youth event.

Thailand is left with the urgent task of finding a replacement venue which meets the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) requirements or face losing the right to host the prestigious championship.

The other two venues to be used for the tournament are Tinsulanonda Stadium in Songkhla and Thammasat Stadium in Rangsit.

A team of AFC officials will be in the country to inspect the three available stadiums from Sept 20-24.

This will be followed by the official draw for the tournament in Bangkok on Sept 26.

After the inspection, Phiphat expressed confidence that Rajamangala will be ready for the U23 championship.

"I am confident that the renovation of Rajamangala National Stadium will finish in time and by December we will have everything ready for the AFC U23 Championship," said Phiphat.

"I believe the work done to improve the condition of the pitch, stadium, locker rooms and media facilities will meet the AFC's standard."

Gongsak said: "This tournament is important for us because it serves as the Asian qualifiers for the 2020 Olympic Games in Japan.

"I have confirmed to the minister already that we will have the venues ready and host the tournament as scheduled."

Somyot said Thailand has three months to complete all renovation work and have a suitable replacement for Chiang Mai 700th Anniversary Stadium ready for the championship.

"We have to hand over all the tournament venues to the AFC on Dec 20," added Somyot.

"The FAT has been quite worried because we do not have much time left. There is quite a lot of work to be done but we will be better off only focusing on the improvements specifically sought by the AFC.

"I do hope that everything will be ready in time and we will be working together with the SAT."


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