UAE v Thailand: Scouting report for Emiratis’ World Cup 2018 qualifying opponent
• The reigning Asean champions qualified for this stage by winning their pool in the previous round, topping Group F ahead of favourites Iraq. In two matches thus far in this phase, Thailand have been beaten twice, although they were unlucky to lose 1-0 to Saudi Arabia in Riyadh. They were undone by a penalty six minutes from time. Five days later, Thailand were defeated 2-0 at home by Japan. In both matches, they have had a man sent off. Thailand are currently ranked 135th in the world by Fifa and have never before appeared at a World Cup.
Star player: Chanathip Songkrasin
• The diminutive playmaker has been labelled ‘Messi Jay’, making his debut for the national team three years ago when aged 19. Chanathip has game intelligence, quick feet, an eye for a killer pass and typically likes to take on opponents. Recently transferred from BEC Tero Sasana to Thai heavyweights Muangthong United. Has been tipped for a move abroad.
• Kawin Thamsatchanan: Highly rated at Muangthong United, the goalkeeper displayed his pedigree against Japan, making a number of world-class saves to keep the scoreline respectable.
• Teerasil Dangda: The country’s in-form striker, who struck three times in the second stage of qualification, has previously been on the books at Manchester City, Grasshoppers II and Almeria.
Manager: Kiatisuk Senamuang
• Nicknamed ‘Zico’, Kiatisuk is his country’s most-capped player, with 134 appearances. He also stands second in goals scored, with 71, and was the star man when Thailand last featured at this stage of World Cup qualifying, back in 2001. Since taking charge of the senior team in 2013, Kiatisuk has kept largely the same squad of players.
Head-to-head with UAE
• In the past five meetings, Thailand have lost three, drawn one and won one. That victory, 3-0 at home, arrived in October 2004 as part of qualification for the 2006 World Cup. The two sides met most recently in 2007, with the friendly finishing 1-1.
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Updated: October 5, 2016 04:00 AM