2016 Suzuki Cup Preview: Thailand
The pressure is on Thailand. Getting to the final round of qualification for the 2018 World Cup was a fine achievement but losing every game so far has the War Elephants itching to take out their frustrations on regional rivals.
Expectations are high and nothing less than victory will be celebrated back in Bangkok. Thailand may not be No.1 according to FIFA, but they are in the opinion of pretty much everyone in Southeast Asia. The next few weeks are expected to confirm that.
Results have been dismal in qualification – and luck has been in short supply – but then Thailand are playing a different level of opponent in Asia. Teams such as Japan, Australia, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia would have the other seven AFF Suzuki Cup participants shaking in their boots.
The death of long-serving monarch King Bhumibol has not only plunged a nation into mourning, it ended the Thai league a month early and means that the players should be fresh and raring to go when the action kicks off.
It has been an interesting year for Thai football but the Suzuki Cup provides a perfect chance to end it on a high.