Thailand have chosen their final squad for the upcoming AFC U23 qualifiers in Vietnam, which are set to begin on the 22nd of March.
Along with the Group K hosts, Thailand will also face AFF U22 Champions Indonesia and minnows Brunei. However, as hosts of the tournament proper next January, the War Elephants place in the final draw has already been confirmed.
Despite that, coach Alexandre Gama has selected his strongest squad in hopes of using this tournament for much-needed preparation. This will be the Brazilian’s first chance to work with his best available side and has chosen many players who start regularly for top Thai League clubs.
Supachok Sarachat and Worachit Kanitsribampen have both gotten off to flying starts in the domestic campaign, and were prized away from the senior squad selectors by coach Gama to ensure they had a chance to prepare in the U23 setup. Rising stars like Kevin Deeromram, Rattanakorn Maikami, Supachai Jaided, and Anon Amornlerdsak were also added to what is looking like a formidable War Elephants lineup.
In addition, six players from the ‘reserve side’ that featured at the recent AFF U22 Championships have made the cut for the final 23. They include goalkeeper Korraphat Nareechan, defenders Saringkan Promsupa, Marco Ballini, and Patcharapol Intanee, midfielder Sakunchai Saengthopho and striker Korrawit Tasa.
One surprising pick was the addition of 16 year old striker Suphanat Mueanta. The Buriram youth academy product became the youngest player to ever score a goal in the Thai League at just 15 years and 9 months old, and is yet to feature for the nation’s U21 side. However, the striker’s meteoric rise is set to continue after coach Gama has given him the nod for this tournament.