Football Tribe Thailand
Thailand prepares to face Indonesia in their second game of World Cup qualifying tonight. In their opening match against Vietnam, Akira Nishino handed a debut to midfielder Phitiwat Sukjitthamakul. The Chiangrai United star performed excellently as a box-to-box player, fighting tenaciously in the midfield and linking up play down the left side of the pitch. However, he may not be the only player to make their national team debut during this international break, as four other players in the War Elephants’ squad are yet to win their inaugural cap.
Position: Right Back
Club: Port FC
Port's Nitipong Selanon has been one of the most consistent and reliable players this season, consistently turning out solid performances every week at club level. After making the final 23-man squad for the first time, he is competing with Tristan Do for a spot in the starting lineup. He is viewed as a more stable option defensively than his counterpart and could be the right man for the job if Nishino is looking to change things up.
Position: Center Back
Club: Chiangrai United
The U23 national team captain has played an incredible number of games for a man of his age and has been an ever-present in Chiangrai United's astute backline this season. Nishino clearly views the player as crucial for his plans in the upcoming SEA Games and AFC U23 Championships, so it will be interesting to see if the boss gives him a run out with the senior team in preparation for that.
Position: Center Back/Defensive Midfielder
Club: Muangthong United
After originally being cut from the 23-man squad, Patcharapol was drafted back in along with Anon Amornlerdsak as replacements for Thitipan Puangchan and Peeradol Chamrasamee. However, in terms of his position and playing style, the Muangthong United youngster is more closely aligned with Tanaboon Kesarat. As the only like-for-like backup for Tanaboon's role, there is a chance that the rising star could be called on tonight.
Position: Attacking Midfielder/Winger
Club: Chiangrai United
Possibly the debutant Thai fans are most excited to see, Ekanit Panya has had a meteoric rise this season, and an inaugural cap for the national team would be a perfect way to cap it off. In his first season in top-flight Thai football, the 19-year-old was excellent on loan at newly-promoted Chiangmai FC, leading parent club Chiangrai United to recall him in their effort to win the title. His arrival has given the Beetles much more flexibility in the attack, and he has already found the back of the net with some vital goals. Ekanit seems to effortlessly jump from one level to the next; a quality that could serve him well if he gets the nod from Nishino this evening.