Singapore Football

Thailand's big-name players will be too good for Lions, says Therdsak Chaiman

Kiatisuk has special talent in his team whom the Lions will struggle to stop

I spoke to Kiatisuk Senamuang when we played for the Thailand Masters against the Liverpool Masters earlier this month.

He told me he picked a young team because he wanted continuity after a successful Asian Games campaign where his side finished fourth.

He felt the players in that team already had a good understanding, confidence, hunger and teamwork. The average age of the Thai team may be around 24 years, but inexperience is not a problem because many of them have played together for a long time. 

Twelve of them were in the 2013 South-east Asia (SEA) Games winning team and 11 of them played at the Asian Games this year when they reached the semi-finals.

MIDFIELD CREATIVITY

Look out for Charyl Chappuis and Chanathip Songkrasin, the two most creative players in the team. Charyl is a very clever player who likes to release his teammates with quick one-touch passes. He also likes to make runs into the box and his bursts of speed can easily win free-kicks and penalties.

They don't call Chanathip "Messi Jay" back home for nothing. He may be only 1.58m but he has very quick feet and reads the game well. He is an exciting player who can score and create. He has also earned trials in the J-League with Gamba Osaka and Shimizu S-Pulse. He has been so impressive that he could possibly join Bundesliga club Hamburg next season.

WING ATTACK

Singapore have strong tacklers so Thailand have to beat them with fast football. I wouldn't know Kiatisuk's first 11, but Mongkol Tossakrai and Kroekrit Thaweekarn have the ability to create many problems from the wings with their pace. 

The only weakness for this team is over-confidence. They are young, and this is the first senior tournament for some of the younger players after some success at the Under-23 level. I can tell them that this is not an easy tournament, because they have to handle the pressure of playing the hosts in the first match.

STRIKING OPTIONS

I would pick Kirati Keawsombut to start over Adisak Kraisorn because Kirati is very strong and very good in the box and he is very good at scoring headers. Remember how he scored one against Singapore in the second leg of the final in 2012?

Maybe Singapore are building for the future, so they dropped all their foreign-born players like Mustafic Fahrudin, Aleksandar Duric and Daniel Bennett, who I think can still contribute with their experience and physique. But the Lions could have a problem without them, and Kirati can capitalise with his strength.

SECRET WEAPON

(Centre forward Adisak Kraisorn, 23, 3 caps, 4 goals, 1.8m tall)

Adisak has improved a lot with his shooting. He scored five times at the Asian Games and, at senior level, he has scored in every match he played, against China, Lebanon and New Zealand.

He has very good movement in terms of running behind defenders, and his technique is so much better than before that now he reminds me of Kiatisuk.

* Therdsak Chaiman, 41, is currently player-coach with Thai club Chonburi. He has 75 caps, 22 goals, two Suzuki Cup titles (2000, 2002) and was the 2002 MVP. He has also won three SEA Games golds (1995, 1997, 1999).

AFF Suzuki Cup