Football Tribe Thailand
Buriram United’s 17-year-old striker Suphanat Mueanta should “be starting for the senior team” according to Thai legend Piyapong Pue-on.
On his Youtube show, Piyapong revealed his admiration for the rising starlet.
“I would put him in the starting XI ahead of Teerasil [Dangda]. Some might say it’s not time, but I felt he’s ready.”
“I tell you, this boy, Suphanat will change [the perception] of Thai strikers. I was quite young [when I debuted for the national team] and he took my record. It is not always rosy but his intelligence helped him through all the age groups he has played in.”
Last season, Suphanat became the 5th youngest AFC Champions League debutant when he came on against Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors and the competition’s youngest goalscorer in the next matchday thanks to an 80th-minute consolation goal against Beijing FC.
Already handed a senior national team debut by former-head coach Sirisak Yodyardthai – Piyapong is convinced Suphanat is ready to play a more prominent role with the War Elephant following a stellar showing at the SEA Games and the AFC U23 Championship.
“A 17-year-old doesn’t need to get stuck in the under-19s, go to the under-23s. Go start up top, go play for the senior team. He’s got the quality, why hold him back? He’ll be starting for the senior team under me.”
“What I see in him is his brain. The brain controls the foot. He plays with his head – the foot is all but a tool. He is great on the left, on the right or coming from deep.”
“He is getting plenty of game time at Buriram [United], though Buriram needs a big man to hold the play for Suphanat. He played so well with [Diogo Luis Santo] because Diogo is a genius. If Suphanat gets to play with Diogo for another 2 years, he’ll be even better.”
Regarded by many as the country’s finest ever forward, Piyapong won the 1985 K-League title with Lucky-Goldstar FC (FC Seoul), 2 Thai League titles with Air Force in the late-90s and had a successful spell with Malaysian powerhouse Pahang FA.