Atsada Homhual from Phuket produced a one-man show to score all six goals for Thailand in the two opening games against Japanese teams in the Toyota International Junior Cup at the soaked Toyota Sports Centre on Saturday.
The defending champion Thailand, in the morning outclassed Osaka Grampus 5-0 in the first game of the round-robin tournament before they secured the second win by narrowly beating Venforet Kofu 1-0 in the afternoon.
The 12-year-old Atsada, 172 centimetres tall, relied on his physical advantage and personal skills to earn all six points for the Kingdom’s side despite having to compete under a persistent drizzle.
“I’m glad to score six goals in one day but I still have to improve in terms of adjusting to the conditions,” said Atsada from Assumption Thonburi School.
Despite reaching the goal by winning both opening games, national coach Piyapong Pu-on showed some concern about the impact of the weather conditions, which his boys were having difficulty adjusting to.
“They played really well in the morning after the warm-up but they played a bit below par in the afternoon after a break. Some had stiff muscles as they were unable to adapt to this condition. They are usually trained in humid conditions at home,” said Piyapong who viewed that Atsada as having great potential to reach the national team.
“He is in such great physical condition for a boy his age. Along with the talent he has, imagine how far he can go when he’s 18. Under the instruction of a good coach, he could become a great resource for the national team,” Piyapong said.
Thailand will next play Toyota City and Kairiya on Sunday. The team with the best results from the seven games and eight teams will be crowned the winner on Monday afternoon.
Meanwhile, the Thai team had a special Japanese fan Toyohiro Ina who comes from Ichi to wave the Thai flag to show support.
‘I love Thai athletes and always go to support them when they come to Japan. I even used to support Thai athletes in the 2013 and 2015 SEA Games in Myanmar and Singapore,” said Ina.