National Team: Thailand
Thailand national football team is one best teams of South East Asia. Thailand team is also known as Changsuk which means the war of elephants. Football in Thailand is controlled by Football association of Thailand. Current FIFA ranking of Thai team is 117 and the best ranking ever achieved by them is 43 in September 1998.
National football team of Thailand played its first international match against South Vietnam in 1956. The team came into existence in 1915, with the name of Siam national football team. The Siam team played their first match against the Europeans on 20 December, 1915. It was an unofficial match at The Royal Bangkok Sport Club Stadium. In April 1916, King Vajiravudh Rama VI laid the foundation of Football Association of Siam.
The Siam football team competed Indochina national football team in 1930. The Indochina team also includes players from South Vietnam and France. In April 1930, Siam National Football team played their first international match.
In 1949, Siam changed to Thailand which leads to change in name of Football Association of Siam to Football Association of Thailand. The team name also gets renamed from Siam national football team to Thailand national football team. In 1956, Thai team qualified for Summer Olympics which were held in Melbourne Australia. However, the team could not qualify for the quarterfinals.
Thai football team won gold medal for the first time in South East Asian Games (SEA Games), Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in 1965. Thai national football team has won gold 12 times in the history of SEA games. However, needs to satisfy with second and third place for 4 and 5 times respectively.
Changsuk again qualified for Olympics in 1968 hosted in Mexico City, Mexico. The team could not win any of the matches however; Udomslip Sombutnark became the first player to score a goal in Olympics for Thailand. He netted the ball against Guatemala. In 1972, National football team of Thailand qualified for AFC Asian Cup and secured third place which remains as the best record for Thailand in the tournament.
Thailand national football team holds a very good record in King’s cup. The tournament started in 1969 and held annually in Thailand. Changsuk won the tournament 13 times. However, in 2009 Thai team lost to Denmark in close encounter as the decision made through penalty shootout. Apart from the recent tournament the team was able to secure second place on nine occasions.
The team also has a god record in Asian games. While hosting 1998 Asian games in Bangkok, national football team of Thailand bagged fourth place. And they secured fourth place again in 2002 Asian Games that were held in Busan.
National football team of Thailand is learning and growing under the guidance of caretaker Coach Steve Darby. Previously, he was the assistant coach of Thai team. Darby is official FIFA coach since 1981 and managed Australian Soccer Federation from 1990-95 as National development manager. He played the role of coach for Johor FA and helped the team to win Malaysia FA Cup. In 2001, he coached women’s football team of Vietnam and the team won gold medal in SEA games.
Footballer Tawan Sripan played 145 matches for Thailand, highest by any Thai player. Sripan is one of the best midfielders of Thailand. As of now, he is playing for BEC Tero Sasana Football Club. He scored 23 goals in his entire international career. The midfielder announced his retirement when the team could not qualify for 2010 FIFA World Cup. Thereafter, Football association of Thailand appointed him as the assistant coach of Thailand national football team. After retirement, he was still playing for BEC Tero football club. Therefore, in November 2008, he resigned from the post of assistant coach.
Kiatisuk Senamuang is the top scorer for Thai team with 65 goals. Senamuang played 130 matches for the team as a striker. He played for Perlis football club in Malaysia and afterwards joined Huddersfield town but did not play a single game and hired by Rajpracha Sports Club in Thailand. 65 goals are accepted by FIFA however; according to statistics of Thailand the striker netted more than 100 goals. After playing for Thai national football team Senamuang announced his retirement in October 2007.
If Thailand national football team is playing at home, their kit comprises yellow colored jersey and shorts with a blue trim and yellow shorts. And kit will be of blue color with yellow trimmed jersey and shorts, if the team is playing away from home. Originally, Changsuk dressed up in red jersey, red shorts and red socks to play international games. Since October 2007, Thai team has started using yellow colored kit.
Current national football team of Thailand is led by Datsakorn Thonglao. The 25 years old midfielder has played 61 matches for the country. Thonglao is a free kick specialist. The skillful captain was part of the Thai team that won T&T Cup 2008. Presently, he is playing in V-league for Hoang Anh Gia Lai.
Apart from Thonglao, other experienced players of the team are goalkeeper Kittisak Rawangpa, midfielder Sutee Suksomkit and defender Suree Sukha. Rawangpa is the 1st vice captain of Thai football team and has played 44 international games. As of now, Thai goalkeeper is playing for Osotsapa football club in Thailand premier league. Sukha is one of the best defender of current Thai squad. After playing 47 matches for the country, he has become backbone of Thai defense. And the 2nd vice captain of the team Suksomit plays along with the captain at the midfield. He has played 59 matches and scored 14 goals.
Football is a rage in Thailand not only among but women also follow the game religiously. Thailand women’s national football team has won four gold medals in SEA games and bagged second and third place in 2001 and 2005 respectively.
National football team of Thailand is stepping up the ladder every single day and preparing themselves for the upcoming international games.