Sunday , April 14 2024

Thai futsal keeps Vietnam on watch

Football Association of Thailand (FAT) vice president Adisak Benjasiriwan views Vietnam as the biggest challenge in the 2024 Futsal Asian Cup group stage.

Thailand are the host of the 2024 Futsal Asian Cup, and they are in group A with Vietnam, Myanmar and China.

Benjasiriwan said the group felt familiar as there were three Southeast Asian teams, while China just lost 1-5 to Thailand at the Futsal Asian Cup qualifiers in October.

The FAT vice president considers this as a good chance for Thailand to take the top spot in group A and advance to the quarterfinals, but the team must not stay off guard.

“We cannot be careless because the opponents are capable, especially Vietnam, a very strong team,” Benjasiriwan told Siam Sport on Thursday. “Most of all, Thailand must prepare well to meet the standards that we have always had.”

The Thailand national futsal team manager Suthin Buatum added that scientific knowledge about futsal is becoming more widely available, so competitors are constantly evolving. Being the host is a motivation but also a pressure for Thailand.

“The team must compete for the reputation and image of the country,” Buatum said.

Thailand are considered the strongest team in Group A, ranking 26th in the world and fourth in Asia, followed by Vietnam (38th), Myanmar (78th) and China (85th).

Vietnam are considered Thailand’s biggest opponent, having qualified for the Futsal World Cup in 2016 and 2020.

The only time Thailand lost to Vietnam was at the 2014 Southeast Asian Futsal Championship, but at that time they brought their reserve squad to the tournament.

With the strongest squad, Thailand have never lost to Vietnam, but over the past five years, the gap between the two teams has narrowed, as Thailand no longer register big wins.

In the last five encounters with Vietnam, Thailand won 2-0 in the SEA Games 31 final, 3-1 in the semifinals of the 2022 AFF Futsal Championship, 3-1 in a friendly match, 2-0 in the semifinals of the 2019 AFF Futsal Championship and 4-1 in the group stage of the 2018 AFF Futsal Championship.

Thailand’s goal is to reach the Asian semifinals to qualify for 2024 Futsal World Cup. Topping Group A will help the team avoid strong opponents in the quarterfinals like Uzbekistan, the team that are most likely to top group B. Thailand’s biggest problem right now is finding a new coach after parting ways with Spanish coach Carlos Cesar.

The 2024 Futsal Asian Cup will take place from April 17 to 28 next year, with 16 teams divided into four groups. The top two teams of each group will advance to the quarterfinals.

The four semifinalists will qualify for the 2024 Futsal World Cup in Uzbekistan. If Uzbekistan enter the Futsal Asian Cup semifinals, the four losing teams in the quarterfinals will compete in a play-off round to compete for the remaining ticket to the World Cup.

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