War Elephants target vital win
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War Elephants target vital win

Ishii's men must break Chinese defence wall

Thailand coach Masatada Ishii and striker Teerasil Dangda attend a press conference yesterday. PR
Thailand coach Masatada Ishii and striker Teerasil Dangda attend a press conference yesterday. PR

As the Thai national football team geared up for their crucial 2026 Fifa World Cup qualifying battle with China this evening, their coach Masatada Ishii on Wednesday reiterated his resolve to win the country's remaining two Group C games.

The War Elephants will be desperate to claim three points from their penultimate group match in the Chinese city of Shenyang and tie the Chinese on seven points ahead of their final group game against Singapore on Tuesday evening at Bangkok's Rajamangala National Stadium.

South Korea are on top of the Group C table with 10 points, followed by China, who have seven points, and Thailand on four points. Singapore are at the bottom of the table with only one point.

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

Ishii told a pre-match news conference yesterday that his men would need to find a way to unsettle the Chinese defence.

"We have been training continuously for many days both here and in Thailand. The players look tired, but it shouldn't be a problem," said the Japanese coach.

"Since our arrival here, we have been focusing on the details that we have to improve to get the team ready for the match."

Ishii added: "The Chinese national team have some naturalised players [from Brazil and Ghana] but they are mainly forwards.

"We have analysed the strong points of the opponents and we have adjusted our tactics for the game against China accordingly.

"We have two games left in this round of qualifiers, so we are aiming to get six points from these two remaining matches."

On his meeting with veteran Croatian coach of the Chinese national team, Branko Ivankovic, Ishii said: "He is an experienced coach. We have tried to analyse his style. We would have to find a way to pierce through the Chinese defence wall."

Ishii had faced Ivankovic during the Asian Cup in Qatar, where the Croatian was the head coach of Oman. The match between the Thais and Oman had ended in a 0-0 draw.

Ishii also explained that he and his staff "have a method for selecting players and I think other countries also use the same criteria to pick players for different tournaments.

"We didn't select some of the top U23 players for this game because they were unable to take part in the Asian U23 tournament. That's the reason most players are from the Asian Cup squad, but there are some players from the U23 side in this team as well."

Meanwhile, veteran Thailand striker Teerasil Dangda, who turns 36 today, said a good result in the game against China "will prove to be the best birthday present.

"I don't care if I score in the game or not, I just want Thailand to win the match.

"We have been training together for some time and I think all the players are ready for the match."

The match between Thailand and China will be televised live by Thai Rath TV (32), starting at 7pm (Thai time).

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