Thailand desperate for points

Thailand desperate for points

War Elephants ready for Seoul showdown

Thailand coach Masatada Ishii and striker Supachai Chaided attend a press conference in Seoul on Wednesday. (Photo supplied)
Thailand coach Masatada Ishii and striker Supachai Chaided attend a press conference in Seoul on Wednesday. (Photo supplied)

Thailand will be desperate to get a result in their 2026 World Cup qualifier against mighty South Koreans when the two sides square off in Seoul on Thursday.

The War Elephants' chances of making it to the third and final round of the Asian zone qualifiers took a beating when they lost their opening Group C game to China at home.

They went on to defeat Singapore in an away match in their second group outing but it did little to push them back in contention.

The South Koreans, who sacked German Juergen Klinsmann and replaced him with interim coach Hwang Sun-Hong after an underwhelming show at the 2023 Asian Cup last month, are three points ahead of China and Thailand.

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

Ishii told a pre-match news conference on Wednesday that he was not keen on taking any risks against the South Koreans.

"They [South Korea] are a very strong team with plenty of world-class players, so when you meet a team of this calibre, you play it safe," said the Japanese tactician.

"We will be concentrating more on defence but if we get any chances we will try our best to avail them.

"We need at least a point from this game to stay in the running for a place in the next stage.

"Ever since I became the coach of the Thai national team, every game has been a new challenge for me and this match against South Korea is no different.

"After the Asian Cup, the players went away to their clubs and we haven't had much time together, but the cold weather here in Seoul is a bigger worry."

Thailand striker Supachai Chaided added: "We know the potential of the South Korean players. Many of them play in the top leagues, but it's more about us. We need to follow the plan worked out by the coach."

Meanwhile, Son Heung-Min said on Wednesday that the Asian Cup bust-up with Lee Kang-In had brought the South Korean team closer.

Tottenham and South Korea skipper Son dislocated a finger in a clash with Paris Saint-Germain's Lee on the eve of their defeat in the Asian Cup semi-finals last month.

Reports said that the 23-year-old Lee tried to punch Son, a claim the PSG attacking midfielder denies.

Son said: "Kang-In offered a sincere apology telling team members what he did and what was wrong about it.

"Apologising requires courage and the team accepted the apology because Kang-In showed such courage."

Ahead of the home qualifier against Thailand and the return fixture on Tuesday, Son said the apology had given the team "momentum to unite more tightly".

"Everyone makes mistakes and learns a lot from them," said Son.

"As he is young, I hope it will make him stronger, and realise what it means to be on the national team."

The match between South Korea and Thailand will kick off at 6pm (Thai time) and will be live on Thai Rath TV (32), Changsuek Official channels on YouTube and Facebook. Bangkok Post/AFP

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