RISING STAR Supachai Jaided says he is thrilled at the opportunity to train alongside his childhood idol Teerasil Dangda for the upcoming Asian Cup, which begins on Saturday in the United Arab Emirates.
The 20-year-old Buriram United forward, one of the most promising young guns in the Kingdom, has been called up again by national coach Milovan Rajevac after delivering three goals for his team at AFF Championship earlier this month. But this time he will be joined by the “three musketeers” – Chanathip Songkrasin, Theerathon Bunmathan and his hero Teerasil, who have just returned from playing in Japan’s J-League. “He [Teerasil] is like a brother and a role model for me,” said the well-built Supachai, who stands 183cm tall. “It’s such an honour to be training with him and with Chanathip and Theerathon who are both classy players.”
The Pattani-born player is confident the return of the three stars will help the national team survive the group stage, from which 16 teams – the top two teams from each of the six groups plus the four best third-placed teams – will qualify for the next stage. Thailand has been drawn in Group A alongside India, Bahrain and the UAE.
“This is a good opportunity to learn from these experienced players. Having them will make us stronger, as they can fill the gaps that were present in the AFF Championship,” added Supachai, who also scored two goals in August’s Asian Games.
Rajvevac will evaluate the players’ performance from a warm-up game against Thai Honda FC (Thai League 2) last night before announcing his 23-man squad this morning.
The squad will make the trip to the UAE on December 30.
“Thailand are returning to the Asian Cup Finals for the first time in 12 years. Everybody is working hard, which makes the situation at the camp quite competitive,” said Supachai.
The Kingdom will play Oman on January 5 as their last tune-up for the Asian Cup which starts on January 5. They will take on India on January 6 at the Al Nahyan Stadium in Abu Dhabi at 8.30pm Bangkok time.
The second game against Bahrain is due on January 10 at the Al-Maktoum Stadium in Dubai at 6pm and the final group game with IAE at the Hazzan bin Zayed Stadium in Al Ain at 11pm.