By Lerpong Amsa-ngiam
Interim Thailand coach Sirisak Yodyadthai has called for replacements after four players, including key striker Teerasil Dangda, had to withdraw from this week’s China Cup tournament in Nanning.
The quartet are Asian Cup captain Teerasil of Muang Thong United, Korrakot Wiriyaudomsiri and Sasarak Haiprakhon of Buriram United and Sanrawat Dechmitr from Bangkok United.
The withdrawal is especially tough on 30-year-old Teerasil, who will be missing his chance to earn his 100th cap, after he suffered an ankle injury during the Thai League game with Chiang Rai United over the weekend.
As Teerasil will not join the trip to China, Teerathon Bunmathan was appointed as team captain by Sirisak.
Defender Korrakot has been out of action for three weeks due to illness, while midfield Sasarak sustained an ankle problem during the game with True Bangkok. Another midfielder Sanrawat misses the exhibition event after he says he fell sick after the game with Buriram.
Suphanburi striker Chananan Pombuppha, plus midfielders Sivakorn Tiatrakul of Chiangrai United, Sanukran Thinjom of Muang Thong United and Chitpanya Tisud of PT Prachuab are the additions for the tournament, which will be played from Thursday to Monday.
If 25-year-old winger Sanukran from Phrae province gets a start he will be making his debut for the national team.
Sirisak says the four players’ absence is an opportunity for four others. “I understand the players who have had to withdraw and I don’t want to force them to play,” he said.
“However, this gives opportunities for the other players to seize and prove themselves. If they perform well they have a shot of playing in the World Cup qualifying tournament at the end of this year.”
“Also bringing in new players should inspire others [to know] that if they perform well, they will be called for the national team too.”
The squad had their first training together on Monday and will leave for China on Tuesday.
They will play their first game against China on Thursday (6.45pm Bangkok time), followed by Uruguay-Uzbekistan the following day.
The final and the third-placed playoff will both be played next Monday.
Meanwhile, Football Association of Thailand president Somyot Poompanmuang said the 47th King’s Cup in June would be staged in the provinces as Rajamangala National Stadium in Bangkok will be closed for renovations.
Buriram, Ratchaburi, Nakhon Ratchasima and Suphanburi are the four frontrunners to stage the event.
So far only Vietnam are confirmed participants; the Thai FA is still waiting for replies from India, Uzbekistan, North Korea, Malaysia and Kyrgyzstan.