Thailand striker Chanatip Songkrasin believes his impressive form should benefit Thailand when they play Gabon in the King’s Cup football tournament at the Rajamangala National Stadium in Bangkok on Thursday.
Chanatip headed the crucial injury-time goal that propelled Consadole Sapporo to a 2-1 win over V-Varen Nagasaki in the J-League on Sunday, his second goal of the season.
“I feel great in terms of my mental condition as I just scored for my team before I came back to Thailand. I’m happy that I contributed to the team’s victory,” said the 24-year-old, who is on loan from SCG Muangthong United.
The diminutive striker, just 1.58cm (5 feet 2 inches) tall, has rejoined the national team for the first time since last September’s World Cup Asian Qualifier away to Australia, which Thailand lost 2-1.
Chanatip, who first played for his Thailand country in 2012, is sure to win his 43rd cap on Thursday and will be aiming to score his sixth goal for his country.
He appreciates the Thai fans’ hopes of the national team completing a hat-trick of King’s Cup tournament wins and says the players will do all they can to make I come true.
“Becoming a champion is one of your goals as a footballer but you cannot predict the outcome,” he said, “so all you can do is show the fans that you are giving your best out there.
Chanatip flew into Bangkok on Monday night but was up bright and early to join in Tuesday morning’s training session with his teammates at Kasetsart University.
“I didn’t have much time to rest and I feel a bit tired,” he admitted. “But as a professional I’m fine with that.”
Chanatip, who caused a stir last year when he became the first Thai to play professional football in the J-League, said he was excited to represent the Kingdom again, an achievement he said represented the pinnacle of his career.
“It gives a player great pride to wear a jersey with the national flag on the chest,” he said. “You can never say you have succeeded as a pro player unless you get the chance to play for your country.
“I’m always happy to see my name in the line-up.”
While Chanatip will be one of the players of most interest to home supporters tomorrow, the crowd should also be swelled by the appearance in the visiting team of players like Watford midfielder Ndong Didier Ibrahim and Southampton central midfielder Mario Lemina.
“I’m not really familiar with Gabon but I will follow suggestions from the coach on how to tackle them," Chanatip said.
Apart from Chanatip, goalkeeper Kawin Thammasatchanan of OH Leuven and another striker, Teerasil Dangda of Sanfrecce Hirsoshima, are also back home and joined in the team’s two-hour training on Tuesday morning, which focused on attacks and included a penalty shoot-out.