World Cup Qualifier: Oman v Thailand or hope is the last to die

Thai National Team
Last day of the AFC 3rd round qualification for the World Cup in 2014 and it is All or None for Thailand. Oman is to host Thailand and Saudi Arabia  travels "down under". Up to now Australia is the only team, already secured a place in a final fourth round.

While open Germany's newspaper "Bild" on Tuesday, a smile flashed our face. Thailand's national coach Winfried Schafer was to be seen there. On an elephant. The headline announced: > "Winnie propels the elephant to the World Cup". < Unfortunately with this headline, the popular daily virtually, used our headline which we had in mind for 2021. Of course still nothing is decided yet ahead of the Thais crucial clash vs Oman this Wednesday. However all signs are against Thailand.

For the first time in history of a World championship qualification, Thailand still has a theoretical chance to qualify for the last round in Asia on a last match day. And just now a preparation far from being called well and the absence of key players provide little room for hope.

The training camp in Chiang Mai which lasted from 13 February up to Sunday last week, originally was scheduled shorter than it has turned out in the end. In connection with, Schafer's 11 should have fly to the Emirates, stay there for a few days and test against a strong opponent. Though it never happened. Maldives have been the less fancy "strong" opponent in a warm-up which resulted in a 3-0 win for Thailand. And the game took place in Chiang Mai. Winnie were even not able to train with the whole squad for the large part of the camp. Partly he could train only with six men.

Chonburi had to travel to Korea to play a qualification round to the AFC Champions League group stage, while players of Muang Thong..... well were simply not there and arrived only in the middle of last week. Buriram has, without doubt played the longest season ever. At the beginning of February the league cup final, then the Toyota Premier Cup followed by a Club promotrip to Laos. The Buriram internationals as well as the others arrived some day middle last week. Indeed, obviously without passports, how shortly before the departure to Oman on Sunday was ascertained.

Not enough, Winnie had to strike midfielder Datsakorn Thonglao from the squad list shortly before departure. He is just one of many which must be replaced. Cholratit Jantakam is suspended as well as Rangsan Viwatchaichok is. Nevertheless latter already announced his retirement from international duty. Adul Lahso will be absent in defensive midfield, and Pipob On-Mo will be missed as an alternative up front. All are injured. Nattaphorn Phanrit was not selected in precaution. The regular captain got attested a cardiac defect last year, after broken down right after an international match.

Thailand was leaving with just three strikers, Chatree, Leesaw and Teerasil. All together eight new players are called up for the meeting in Oman. Primarily in defense and midfield. Thus Anucha Kitpongsri was pardoned by Schafer, after the player was leaving the camp unauthorised in strange manner last year. Sompob Nilwong of Pattaya United is the absolute "newbie". He was nominated as a substitute of Nattaphorn and could face his international debut. You can find an overview of the 20-man squad here on our dedicated > site <.

The initial situation is possibly easy. Thailand must win in Oman and at same time hope that Osieck's Australian side beat Saudi Arabia. Even a draw in "Down Under" could be enough. But in that case our boys would have to win by a margin of 4 goals to made a distinction.

In both cases, Thailand would have reached the round of the last 10 in Asia. And we then could forgive "Bild", for the headline of Tuesday.
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