Thai team confident before Asiad
The head coach of Thailand's national team, Chanwit Pholchivin, brushed aside the uncertainty over the fixtures at the Asian Games after Iran was exempted from a ban imposed by Fifa and will be able to defend their title next month in Doha, Qatar.
With the world's governing body's ban on Iran from the international scene for their government's interference in running the sport coupled with the withdrawals of Yemen and Turkmenistan, the Asian Football Confederation had been forced to rearrange the programme at the Asian Games.
However, two-time Asian Games champions Iran have been temporarily exempted from punishment, prompting the AFC to revert to the original fixtures.
Iran have been reinstated into Group D along with India, Hong Kong and the Maldives, while Jordan, who initially replaced Yemen in Group C with Thailand, Palestine and Kuwait according to Saturday's arrangements, have been restored into Group A as earlier planned.
At press time yesterday, the AFC was due to consider which team would fill the remaining vacant places in Group C and Group F.
Despite being upset at the continued problems over the fixtures, Chanwit identified the opponents who would come in place of Yemen. He said no matter what the decision, his team would be ready to take on any side.
"I don't understand why the matter is not yet over and what the AFC is doing. Although the Games are around the corner, the programme is still unclear," said Chanwit.
"I think it would be wasteful to think about possible opponents. What we have to do is to prepare the team to be ready for any assignment."
In the Thai team's opening match against Palestine today at 9.45pm (Bangkok time), Chanwit said he had been forced to alternate his side because of an injury to diminutive forward Aekapan Intasen. He believes his side can afford the absence of Aekapan, who forms an effective partnership with hot shot Teeratep Winothai up front.
"We have to reshuffle our attacking line as Aekapan suffered a bruised calf, so Anont Sangsanoi will come in his place to partner Teeratep up front," he said.
"The other injury doubt is Hatthaporn Suwan, who will have a late fitness test. If he is declared fit he will be in our starting line-up."