Ishii promises utmost effort

Ishii promises utmost effort

War Elephants brace for South Korea test

Thailand players take part in a training session ahead of their World Cup qualifier against South Korea tomorrow in Seoul.
Thailand players take part in a training session ahead of their World Cup qualifier against South Korea tomorrow in Seoul.

Thailand coach Masatada Ishii has struck an upbeat note ahead of the War Elephants' tough fixture in Seoul tomorrow when they on take Asian football giants South Korea in a 2026 Fifa World Cup qualifier.

The two sides meet for an Asian zone Group C encounter with South Korea being the favourites to advance to the third and final stage of the regional World Cup qualifiers as pool winners.

South Korea top the group table after convincing victories over China and Singapore, while Thailand find themselves in a spot of bother after losing their opening game at home to China. Thailand later defeated Singapore in an away game.

The War Elephants had a training session in the South Korean capital yesterday and Ishii admitted that he was expecting a difficult game against the home team.

"We all know that the game with South Korea will be a difficult one, but at the same time, we have to have a target," said Ishii. "We are hoping to get a good result here.

"South Korea have good players in every position, but there we will be better off focusing on our game instead.

"We had our first training session here today [yesterday]. We have a plan and are well prepared. As for now, all I can say is that we will try to do our best."

Meanwhile three foreign-based players -- Nicholas Mickelson, Suphanat Mueanta and Elias Dolah -- joined the team in Seoul.

Tottenham Hotspur star Son Heung-Min and South Korea are hoping to move on from their turbulent Asian Cup campaign.

Much has happened since South Korea were dumped out 2-0 by unfancied Jordan in the semi-finals of the Asian Cup, including the sacking of coach Juergen Klinsmann.

It emerged that skipper Son and Paris Saint-Germain attacking midfielder Lee Kang-In had been involved in a fracas on the eve of the match, leaving the Tottenham attacker with a dislocated finger.

Legendary German striker Klinsmann was dismissed after having promised to take South Korea to their first Asian title in 64 years. He was replaced on an interim basis by Hwang Sun-Hong.

Son and Lee have since made up, and Hwang included the duo in his squad for the home game with Thailand today and the return fixture five days later.

"Lee Kang-In wanted an opportunity to apologise to fans and his teammates from the bottom of his heart, and Son Heung-Min said we should all embrace Kang-In and move forward," Hwang, South Korea's U23 coach, said.

"Based on my experience as a national team player, I think issues like this can end up making the team even tighter," he added.

Thailand and South Korea will clash again on Tuesday at Bangkok's Rajamangala National Stadium.

In the other Group C game tomorrow, China travel to Singapore under Croatian coach Branko Ivankovic for his first game in charge.

Japan face North Korea in a double-header that sees them travel to Pyongyang.

Japan are also eager to move on from the Asian Cup, where they went out 2-1 to Iran in the quarter-finals and never justified their tag as pre-tournament favourites.

Hajime Moriyasu remained coach despite the disappointment and Japan face two matches against North Korea, travelling into the unknown on Tuesday when they play at Kim Il-Sung Stadium in Pyongyang.

Japan have a perfect six points from two games with 10 goals scored and none conceded.

Qatar will be expected to make it four wins from four in Group A when they play Kuwait home and away. Bangkok Post/AFP

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