THAILAND is offering its campaign in this year’s Suzuki Cup to its late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, whose passing has inspired the War Elephants to perform at the highest level in the biggest football tournament in Southeast Asia.
The War Elephants come in for the preliminaries of the 2016 Suzuki Cup in the Philippines as title favorites, but their campaign come on the heels of the death of their revered king.
“We will try to defend the championship again for our King,” said Thailand head coach Kiatisuk Senamuang after the official press conference at the Marco Polo Hotel on the eve of the tournament.
“We want to make our fans in Thailand to be happy. We want to get the trophy for our king,” said Senamuang, also called ‘Zico.’
The War Elephants left for Manila on a high after a 2-2 draw against heavily favored Australia in the 2018 World Cup qualifiers last Tuesday.
But Senamuang isn’t taking the Suzuki Cup preliminaries lightly after being bracketed in Group A, the so-called Group of Death, with the Philippines, Singapore, and Indonesia.
“We forget that we are the champions. We try to improve. Other teams can be champions if they work together. We respect our opponents,” said Senamuang.
Senamuang also welcomed the return of star striker Teerasil Dangda, who missed the 2014 Suzuki Cup after he was not released by his Spanish club Almaria.
Despite Teerasil’s absence, the Thai squad mostly composed of Under-23 players who finished fourth in the 2014 Asian Games, won the Suzuki Cup crown that same year.
Teerasil’s return will only enhance Thailand’s chances of a back-to-back.
“He has the experience. He wants to fight and he wants to get the trophy,” said the youthful mentor.