Thais meet Iraq in Asian U23 opener
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Thais meet Iraq in Asian U23 opener

Thai players train for their AFC U23 Asian Cup match against Iraq.
Thai players train for their AFC U23 Asian Cup match against Iraq.

Thailand U23 team will start their campaign for an Olympic berth on Tuesday by taking on Iraq in the AFC U23 Asian Cup in Doha.

The match at Al Janoub Stadium will kick off at 10.30pm (Thai time) and will be televised live on True Sport 2 (667) channel.

The tournament serves as the qualification pathway to the Olympic Games. Three automatic slots to the Paris Olympic Games and a possible fourth through a play-off will be at stake in Qatar 2024.

Thailand have been placed in Group C with Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Tajikistan for the round-robin first stage of the tournament, which will conclude on May 3.

Thailand U23 head coach Issara Sritaro said: "This is a big tournament for the Thai U23 team and we have set a target for ourselves -- we want to qualify for the Olympic Games in Paris. To achieve that, we'll have to do our best in this competition.

"Although we do not have the best players in the team, we hope that these players will bring out their best and help us meet our target."

Issara added that the team had prepared well for the event and "I think we can get points from matches against the teams in our group."

Sophonwit Rakyart, the Muang Thong United goalkeeper who has been appointed captain for the Iraq game, said: "I will do my best in this tournament.

"I believe that every player in the team is both physically and mentally ready for the tournament.

"We are hoping for a victory against Iraq in our opening game. We will be taking things on a game by game basis.

"We are hoping that we will qualify for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris."

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