Thailand’s World Cup draw: Pros and Cons

It was not the best of draws for Thailand in the final round of World Cup qualifiers. However, there are positives as well as negatives so FourFourTwo takes a look at what can be.  

It was always going to be tough for Thailand in the World Cup final round of qualification but it seems the level of difficulty increased after they were drawn with the likes of Australia and Japan

However, there are positives as well as negatives.

THE PROS:No pressure to qualify

Nobody expects Thailand to head to Russia in 2018. For teams like Japan and Australia, missing out would not just be the end of the World Cup; it is the end of their world figuratively speaking.

For starters, Saudi Arabia is one good example. The Green Falcons grew accustomed to the global stage  in four successive appearances from 1994 to 2006. They then started to take it for granted but you don't know what you've got until it's gone.

The first failure to qualify for the World Cup back in 2010 was unfortunate, while 2014 was probably one of the worst campaign they had.

But they can’t afford to take failure any longer. If that wasn’t the case, why would Saudi Arabia bring in a big name coach like Bert Van Merkwijk.

United Arab Emirates are also desperate. There is just the one appearance they made at the World Cup, back in 1990. Now, there is growing concern that the much-vaunted golden generation approaching its peak will miss out on the biggest stage.

For those teams, a bad result or two could bring panic but for Thailand it is different.

A couple of wins will be seen as success and coach Kiatisuk Senamuang should use the games to improve the team for the long-term future.

Iraq will be familiar foes

Iraq have played Thailand twice in the second round

The War Elephants’ played Iraq twice in the second round and had to settle for a 2-2 draw each time.

While Thailand may not have defeated Iraq, they almost did it away from home. It didn't matter in the end as Kiatisuk Senamuang's men won the group.

These results will give Thailand the confidence that they can beat the 2007 Asian champions who are, once again, dealing off-the-pitch fiasco.

The Iraq coach who faced Thailand has left his post. The man whom Iraq wanted as a replacement rejected the job.

It may be true that Iraq took Thailand too lightly last time around and won't make the same mistake again but there is at least one team in the group that Thailand knows it can beat and that is something to build on.

Meeting the stars

Before worrying too much about the ins and outs of the group, it is exciting to think that the likes of Omar Abdulrahman, Keisuke Honda, Tim Cahill and Shinji Okazaki will be on show – the very best talent that Asia has to offer.

They are players at the top of the continental tree, showing the stars of Thailand the level they have to reach.

Shinji Okazaki is one of the stars that Thailand can expect to face

This is a rare opportunity to gain some exposure and the Thais can certainly milk as much experience as they can get.

The very straightforward travels

Asian qualification is always going to be something of a slog given the distances involved but Thailand is positioned between the two power bases of Asian football – the west and east region.

There will be no mad dashes back from Riyadh to Tokyo or, worse, Sydney.

Australia, for example, are in action in Saudi Arabia on October 6 and then has to go all the way back home to take on Japan.

The only tough journeys Thailand will have to make will be their first two group games.

The team has to return quickly back home after playing in Saudi Arabia in order to take on Japan in Bangkok five days later.