Thai football star Chanathip Songkrasin wants payback against China

By Trung Thu   May 30, 2024 | 12:45 am PT
Star midfielder Chanathip Songkrasin sees the 2-1 defeat to China last year as motivation for him and the Thailand national team to return the favor at the 2026 World Cup qualifiers in June.

Thailand currently have four points, three behind second place China with two matches remaining in the second round of the 2026 World Cup qualifiers. Their goal is to beat China at all costs in the rematch on June 6.

"This is the game that will decide our fate," Songkrasin told Thai newspaper Siam Sport on Wednesday.

The 30-year-old midfielder considered China as their biggest competition in the group. He still holds the grudges in his heart after the defeat on Nov. 16, 2023 at home stadium Rajamangala.

Thailand got off to a good start when Sarach Yooyen opened the scoring in the 23rd minute. But defensive mistakes led to a loss and a disadvantage in getting through the second qualifying round.

Chanathip Songkrasin joins the national football team of Thailand on May 29, 2024. Photo by FAT

Chanathip Songkrasin joins the national football team of Thailand on May 29, 2024. Photo by FAT

"That defeat hurt me. This time, the team are determined to get the three points back," Chanathip said. "It's important for Thailand to play as a team and stay aware."

Songkrasin is among the 27 players called up by coach Masatada Ishii for the match. He injured his groin while playing for Thai club BG Pathum United and it seemed like he would miss the two important games. However, Songkrasin still joined the team, showing that he is recovering as fast as possible.

Coach Ishii said Thailand's goal was to beat both China and Singapore. If they draw against China, Thailand still has a chance to advance as they need to get a big victory over Singapore and China lose to South Korea in the last round.

China also understand the importance of the match against Thailand.

"This is a very important game, and the team must prepare with all we have," coach Branko Ivankovic told Chinese newspaper The Paper. "Victory is the only goal."

Coach Ivankovic has called up 30 players, with many new faces besides four familiar naturalized players, midfielder Tyias Browning (England), three strikers Elkeson, Alan and Fernandinho (Brazil).

However, China also won't have the best squad for the game with Thailand because midfielder Li Yuanyi and striker Wu Lei have been suspended, while Li Shuai, Elkeson and Zhang Yuning are unlikely to play due to injury.

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