SAITAMA – Thailand will go for broke against Japan in Tuesday’s World Cup qualifier with hopes of reproducing Singapore’s epic draw at Saitama Stadium in the previous qualifying round.
“We have nothing to lose,” Thai coach Kiatisuk Senamuang said on Monday. “We have the heart and soul to fight so we will put on a great show. It’s a great opportunity to play against Japan, who will always qualify for the World Cup.
“We don’t know if we can do the same as what Singapore did here in Japan. But we will try our best, we want to play for three points. However it’s very difficult; one point will be a huge success for us to take back home.
“If our players are in form, it will be an exciting match.”
Vahid Halilhodzic’s side was held to a 0-0 draw by Singapore at Saitama in June 2015, one of the most deflating results for Japan since it qualified for its first World Cup in 1998.
With four games left in the final qualifiers, the Thais are at the foot of the Group B table with one point. They remain mathematically alive, but will need an astounding series of results to have any chance of qualifying for Russia.
Thailand was beaten 3-0 at home by group leader Saudi Arabia on Thursday. The Thais were only down by one for most of the match, but with six minutes remaining an own goal killed any chance of their taking a point off the Saudis.
Kiatisuk, however, insists his troops are not down and, with all the pressure to perform on the hosts, are eager to take on the four-time Asian champions before a sellout crowd at the 64,000-seater stadium.
“We see Japan as one of the best teams in the group and with the victory over the UAE in their away game, it’s created a more difficult task for Thailand in tomorrow’s match,” he said.
“It’s been like a dream for the players. It’s been a long time since Thailand played Japan in Japan. I’m giving them a chance to play the best team in Asia, and this stadium was used to hold the World Cup in 2002 so it’s a historical place. We want them to have fun tomorrow.”
Added Sinthaweechai Hathairattanakool, “Tomorrow is a big task for us. We have a young squad, the average age is early 20s. We think we have a lot to learn, and this is a great opportunity to learn from the best team in Asia.”