Thailand face Ukraine hurdle
Fresh from getting their campaign off to a spectacular start, hosts Thailand are now gunning for their second win when they take on Ukraine in their second Group A match of the Futsal World Cup today.
The hosts got their campaign hit the ground running after registering only their third victory in the Cup finals with an impressive 3-1 score over Costa Rica, while the Ukrainians had to settle for a point in a thrilling 3-3 draw with Paraguay.
After failing to survive the group stages in their previous three appearances in the tournament, the Thai team, sitting at the summit of the standings with three points, are now in prime position to reach the knockout rounds for the first time.
A win over the former Soviet state at Hua Mark Indoor Stadium would almost ensure the hosts a berth in the last-16 round. However, the Thais are not take anything for granted.
"The Ukraine fixture is very crucial in terms of our chances of qualifying for the last 16. A win would guarantee us a qualification. The Ukrainians, though, would start as the favourites.
"I believe the support from the fans could drive us on to win the game so I hope to see a huge turnout at the venue tomorrow," said Thailand's Dutch coach Victor Hermans.
Meanwhile, Bangkok authorities confirmed the Bangkok Futsal Arena would be ready for the final inspection by Fifa officials tomorrow after the imported playing surface eventually arrived.
The world soccer's governing body provisionally permitted the use of the Arena at the tournament from the quarter-final round, on the condition that the local authorities managed to meet the requirements.
The chief concern was the pitch, which was still not in place at the venue built at a cost of Bt1.3 billion, following logistical problems. After the belated arrival of the surfaces from Malaysia and Italy, the officials, expressed confidence that everything would be ready in time.
"The surfaces we imported from Italy and Malaysia have already arrived, while the one from the United States is due to arrive later tonight.
"It's now up to Bangkok governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra to decide on which one to be used. But, the surface from USA is the most ready for use," said Suphachai Tantikom, the Arena director.