War Elephants start preparing for Malaysia clash

War Elephants start preparing for Malaysia clash

Thailand coach Akira Nishino greets midfielder Sasalak Haiprakhon.
Thailand coach Akira Nishino greets midfielder Sasalak Haiprakhon.

Thailand on Friday kicked off the final phase of their preparations for two upcoming World Cup qualifiers in the absence of their foreign-based stars.

The War Elephants are scheduled to take on Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur on Nov 14 before clashing with Vietnam on Nov 19 in another away game.

After three games, the Thais lead Group G of Asia's second qualifying round for the 2022 World Cup ahead of Vietnam on goal difference.

The UAE, the top seeded team in the group, have six points and Malaysia three.

Indonesia, who have played four matches, are still looking for their first point.

The eight group winners and four best runners-up advance to the continent's 12-team final qualifying stage for Qatar 2022 and also earn places at the 2023 AFC Asian Cup finals in China.

Among those reporting for the training camp yesterday were captain Siwarak Tedsungnoen, veteran striker Teerasil Dangda, Sarach Yooyen, Phitiwat Sukjitthammakul, Supachok Sarachart and Sasalak Haiprakhon.

They were all welcomed by Thailand coach Akira Nishino at Windmill Football Club, where the squad got on with their training.

Japan-based star playmaker Chanathip Songkrasin, who missed Thailand's 2-1 victory over the UAE last month through injury, influential defender Theerathon Bunmathan, who is also playing in Japan, and goalkeeper Kawin Thamsatchanan of Belgium's OHL will join the team on Monday.

Midfielder Thitiphan Puangjan, another J-League player, was not included in the squad as he has yet to recover from an injury.

Teenage striker Suphanat Mueanta will join the team today after playing for the country's U19 side.

Japanese coach Nishino is also overseeing the national U23 squad's training for the 2019 SEA Games in the Philippines, where Thailand will be defending their title.

Meanwhile, the Football Association of Thailand (FAT) announced yesterday the 2020 Thai League 1 season will kick off on Feb 7.

The first transfer window is from Nov 11-Feb 3 and the second from June 15-July 12.

Chiang Rai United are the defending champions.

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