By Lerpong Amsa-ngiam
The J-League Best 11 award winner will be joined by Yokohama F. Marinos’s Theerathon Bunmathan, the Thai captain, and Oita Trinita’s Thitiphan Puangchan in the four-team event, which also includes Uruguay and Uzbekistan.
China dashed the War Elephants’ hopes of reaching the quarter-finals of the Asian Cup in January, winning the last-16 game in the United Arab Emirates 2-1.
“I want to win this time after we were hurt by that loss in Asian Cup,” said 25-year-old midfielder Chanatip.
“Beating them on their home soil should feel even better but the Chinese team is getting stronger and stronger. We have to help each other to achieve this task.”
Injuries and sickness have caused a series of withdrawals from the team.
Ace striker Teerasil Dangda, who has an ankle injury, is one of six players missing the exhibition event but Chanathip is not worried about the absence of some key players.
“This is still one of the best teams we have at the moment. Everyone wants to perform at their best for the country. We will take his opportunity to prove ourselves,” he said.
Thitiphan, 25, hopes to benefit from his experience with one of the top leagues in Asia. The midfielder joined his first J-League side, Oita, in February and helped his side to win three out of their first four games, including a 2-0 home win over Yogohama F Marinos last week.
“I have lost three kilos and have been in great shape due to intensive training in Japan,” said Thitiphan, who has been part of the national team since 2013.
“I hope to make use of what I’ve learned in Japan to help our team.”
Interim coach Sirisak Yodyadthai is also relaxed about the lack of key strikers Teerasil and rising star Supachai Jaided, who has commitments with the under-23 team.
“I’m more concerned about building teamwork. Good comprehension is what I want to create in the team,” said Sirisak, who has been acting coach since the Asian Cup.
“But I’m positive that they will bring good results. I want to see the young players step up a notch as there are more important events waiting them.”.