Loss puts Polking in hot seat
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Loss puts Polking in hot seat

Under-fire Thailand coach Mano Polking remains upbeat about the War Elephants' chances in their 2026 World Cup qualifying campaign even though they suffered a home loss to China on Thursday night.

The Thais were defeated 2-1 by China at Rajamangala National Stadium in their first Group C game in Asia's second phase of qualifying for the 2026 finals.

Sarach Yooyen opened the scoring for the Thais with a long drive after 23 minutes.

Wu Lei made it 1-1 with a tap-in six minutes later and substitute Wang Shangyuan finished off the hosts with a close-range header in the 74th minute.

Thailand visit Singapore on Tuesday while China host South Korea, who hammered Singapore 5-0 on Thursday.

The top two teams in each of nine groups advance to the next stage.

"It's a disappointing result," said Polking. "We did well and had several chances but just could not turn them into goals. We conceded two goals on the counter-attack. This should not have happened."

He added: "We still have hopes. We will keep fighting. If we beat Singapore, we will be back on track."

Against Singapore, Thailand are likely to be without midfielder Chanathip Songkrasin and defender Pansa Hemviboon who both limped off against China.

Meanwhile, there has been a "Mano out" campaign on social media.

His team is considered by a large number of fans as the best Thailand squad for years and one critic said "good ingredients but a bad chef."

Many fans criticised Polking's starting line-up and substitutions. "He is only good at the Asean level but not at the Asian level," said one fan.

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