The Thai League was put on hold last week as the Thai national team played their first qualifying games for the 2022 World Cup which will be hosted in Qatar. In their first two games they faced local rivals Vietnam and Indonesia hoping to get off to a good start.
Goalless Bore Dra: Thailand Vs Vietnam
Thailand faced up against habitual rivals Vietnam once again, this time in the first match of the World Cup qualifiers. They entered the game hoping to avenge their recent 1-0 loss to Vietnam in the King’s Cup.All in all this was a very dull game with very little chances being created with very little attacking play to describe.
Thailand began this match surprisingly without a recognised striker, preferring to play Japanese based midfielder Thitipan Puangchan as a false nine. That being said the only recognised striker in the whole squad was Buriram’s Supachai Jaided, whose own goal scoring record is quite shy to say the least, meaning it was slim pickings in the striking department. The lack of striking option is quite alarming and shows just how the country lack decent strikers.
This led to the Thai national team having very little focal point in attack, with no one challenging for crosses or running after through balls. The Thai’s seem to be constantly putting the balls into the box but was never met by anyone. The team was really crying out for a physical type striker that could have been the focal point of the attack. Someone along the lines of Teerasil Dangda or even Siroch Chatthong could really have made a difference and had a more physical presence up front.
The bright spark in attack was Supachok Sarachat, who seemed to channel everything that was positive about the team. He constantly terrorised the Vietnamese right-back by continuously beat his man and cut inside to either cross the ball or shoot. The emergence of Supachok has in a way lifted the responsibilities off of Chanathip Songkrasin who now was someone to share the creative burden.
In defence Thailand were fairly comfortable, with deputy keeper Siwarak Tedsungnoen having very little to do. It was encouraging to see Bangkok United centre back Manuel Bihr get a run out and potentially establish himself in the back. Manuel Bihr has a more physical build that you would normally associate with a top level defender and would help the Thai team more effectively defend against set pieces which they have been prone to conceding when playing teams outside of South East Asia.
First Win Under The Table: Thailand Vs Indonesia
The second game of the week was much more entertaining and resulted in Thailand get the first three points of the qualifiers with a 3-0 win over Indonesia. The game was lot more open with both sides creative good chances from the get-go.
Thailand fielded a rather youthful side giving opportunities to Chiangrai United duo Ekanit Panya and Phitiwat Sukjitthammakul while also reinstating Supachai Jaided to lead the line. It was arguably Indonesia who had the better of the early chances defender Hansamu Yama skying the ball from point blank range after a dangerous corner and Stefano Lilipaly forcing keeper Siwarak Tedsungnoen into a good save.
With Supachai Jaided the team had a focal point to aim their dangerous balls to. This is evident during set pieces where they will willing to play more dangerous balls into the box. Supachok Sarachat was once again reeking havoc on the left. Supachok put Thailand into the lead early in the second half when he curled the ball from outside the box past keeper Andritany Ardhiyasa.
Though the first goal came from a bit of magic from Supachok, the second was gifted to Thailand by a moment of erratic keeping from Andritany Ardhiyasa. As Supachok was once again tormenting the Indonesia defence, keeper Andritany Ardhiyasa to take Supachok out with a slide tackle which resulted in a penalty for Thailand. Captain Theerathon Bunmathan cooly converted into the top corner with his spot kick.
Supachok was once again a key figure for Thailand’s third goal by finishing off a well worked move. He played a double one-two with Theerathon Bunmathan on the left hand side before side footing a nice finish and putting the game to bed.
Thailand’s attack was much more fluid than the previous game but this could be due to the open nature of the game. Supachok Sarachat and Theerathon Bunmathan dominated on the left hand side and are forming a rather dangerous duo there, which will be interesting to see in future games. Supachok Sarachat is really turning into a hell of a player, and will go out on a limb to say he is destined to play in a higher league than the Thai League. It was also good to see Supachai Jaided utilised up front which offered Thailand options from set pieces and crosses into the box.