Thailand to shake up World Cup qualifiers, predicts billionaire president

By Hoang Nguyen   March 20, 2024 | 07:10 pm PT
Billionaire Nualphan Lamsam, president of the Football Association of Thailand, voiced her belief that the underdog Thai team will bring a remarkable performance against South Korea at the World Cup qualifiers on Thursday.

As the countdown to the crucial match at the Seoul World Cup Stadium in Seoul began, Lamsam, affectionately known as Madam Pang, exuded confidence in her team's abilities despite the ranking gap between the two sides.

"South Korea may sit comfortably at 22nd in the world rankings, a staggering 80 places above Thailand, who currently hold the 101st spot, but in football, anything is possible," said Madam Pang, drawing inspiration from Thailand's U19 victory over South Korea in the past.

"We're prepared to create another upset or, at the very least, secure a valuable point," she added.

Billionaire and FAT president Nualphan Lamsam. Photo by Instagram/@panglamsam

Billionaire and FAT president Nualphan Lamsam. Photo by Instagram/@panglamsam

The Thai national football squad embarked on their journey to South Korea from Bangkok on Monday, comprising 19 players, with an additional four players stationed abroad set to join them in South Korea.

Among these foreign-based players are key figures like striker Suphanat Mueanta, midfielders Supachok Sarachat and Elias Doloh, along with right-back Nicholas Mikkelson, all of whom are expected to play pivotal roles in Thailand's strategy against South Korea.

Both teams have undergone transformations since their previous World Cup qualifying campaigns. Japanese coach Masatada Ishii has taken the reins for Thailand, succeeding Mano Polking, while South Korea has seen domestic coach Hwang Sun-hong replace the esteemed German coach Jurgen Klinsmann.

Despite facing uncertainty surrounding the inclusion of stars Son Heung-min and Lee Kang-in following their altercation during the 2023 Asian Cup, interim coach Hwang has decided to include them in the squad, indicating South Korea's intention to field a formidable lineup against Thailand.

Reflecting on South Korea's approach, Madam Pang said, "They have shown respect by summoning their European-based players to face us. Nevertheless, Thailand are unwavering in our determination to give our all until the final whistle."

Following the showdown in Seoul on Thursday, Thailand will return home to Rajamangala Stadium in Bangkok to host South Korea on March 26 in what promises to be another captivating encounter.

Madam Pang, 57, boasts a multifaceted career as a businesswoman, politician, and scion of the esteemed Lamsam family, one of Thailand's wealthiest. Her deep involvement in Thai football spans over a decade, marked by roles in steering both men's and women's football to new heights, culminating in her historic appointment as the president of FAT in February.

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