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Futsal World Cup: Thailand want to tie on 2012

Thai Futsal National Team Futsal World Cup Trophy

The futsal object of desire
image: thai-fussball.com

A few weeks ago, the era of Vic Hermans as coach of the national Futsal team came to end. With a new coach and the Futsal World Cup around the corner, Thailand wants to build on his and Hermans success of the 2012 World Cup.

Back, that time the Thais were hosting the World Cup and were able to advance to the knock-out stage for the first time in their history. Thailand was hopelessly inferior to eventual vice champion Spain in the round of the last 16 and they have lost the game 1-7. But throughout the match, the mood inside the venue was absolutely fantastic. About 6,000 fans pushed and shouted the team to the consolation goal. After the final whistle, they cheered their side as if Thailand would have been crowned world champion. Now, four years later, Thailand wants to build on his first knockout stage at a Futsal World Cup. With a new coach whose name is Miguel Rodrigo and who follows Vic Hermans.

The new kid on the block

Hermans was in charge of the national team for the remarkable time of four years. Most recently he led Thailand to a 3rd place at the Asian Championship in February 2016 and secured the successful qualification to the World Championships in Colombia. Actually, it was his goal to manage the team at the coming World Cup and to retire after the tournament. But the new Thai FA administration had different ideas. Under the management of futsal manager Adisak Benjasiriwan, who have returned after being booted by Worawi Makudi some years ago, signed up Miguel Rodrigo. After 2008 when Benjasiriwan signed Pulpis, Rodrigo has become the second Spaniard in charge of the Thai futsal side.

The 46-year-old Rodrigo is no stranger to the world of futsal and has made a name for himself as a coach of Japan. Dubbed "Mahōtsukai" (The Magician) by the Japanese media, he was seven years in charge before he resigned after the AFC Championship early 2016. Although he wrote history for the Futsal Samurai when he led them to the knockout stage at the World Cup 2012 and a back-to-back Asian Championship, he failed to lead the team to this year's world tournament where Asia is represented by five teams. For the first time, three of them are members of the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) with Thailand, Vietnam and Australia.

Preparation and squad

Taking over the office on 1 July, Rodrigo and his staff could only start the preparation for the World Cup on 10 August. Two days after the domestic league finished. Not much time for the Spaniard to bring his tactics and philosophy to the players as he told thai-fussball.com. "We started with the preparation on 10 August. A bit late, but the League ended only on 8 August. So I had only 25 training sessions and five test matches time to set my attacking and defending style,"

Despite having less time to prepare, he got some results. At a tournament at the Bangkok Futsal Arena, yes she now is really ready, Thailand lost no game and even beat Iran in a breathtaking match 7-5. Meanwhile arrived in Colombia, the Thais lost a warm-up against World Cup participants Morocco 1-5.

Six of the 14 players picked by Rodrigo were part of the squad in 2012. Except for Jetsada Chudech (Rajnavy), all playing for Chonburi Bluewave. Including superstars Kritsada Wongkaeo, Nattawut Madyalan and the man who scored the "Goal of the 2012 World Cup": Suphawut Thueanklang. With Lertchai Issarasuwipakorn a true Thai futsal legend returns to the World Cup stage. Left out in 2012, the 33-year-old has already played at the 2004 and 2008 tournament for Thailand.

Thailand's group B

Thailand is playing in Group B together with Russia, Cuba and Egypt. Since even the four best third-placed teams can qualify for the round of the last 16, chances are very high Thailand will advance to the knockout-stage. Asked by thai-fussball.com about his goals and the group, Rodrigo went on record: "First target Level: reach the next round and I think we are able to do it in the second position of our group. We have a final against Egypt who are at same level. Second target level, let's dream to play the quarter final and make history,"

To achieve the second goal, it would be the best for Thailand to finish above Russia as the winner of group B. But to do so, it would mean the Thais would have to beat Russia in the first game, who currently number three in the world behind Brazil and Spain. Rodrigo admits that it is actually impossible for Thailand to beat the Russians, but also says: "if we play at the same level of last Thailand Five tournament in Bangkok we can beat anyone. And there is a minimum of possibilities for miracles!"

Should Thailand finish its group in second, the Thais are likely to face Iran or even worse, Vice World Champion Spain in the round of the last 16. Even if reaching the quarter-finals might need a miracle, the current number 2 of Asia, behind Iran, would be okay with exiting the tournament at this stage.

Four years ago it was quite easy to follow the fortune of the Thais. Because either one was at the venues or in Thailand. Even from Europe, it was easy to follow the World Cup. With the tournament held in Columbia this year, it isn't that easy because of the time difference. The group matches of Thailand take place either at in the night if you are in Europe or in the morning At 06:00 and 08:00 Thai time. Not exactly the best time to inspire people to watch futsal and to become a fan.

Nevertheless, in Thailand Channel 7 broadcasts the game, if you are interested in watching and following the Thai national futsal team.
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