The road to Colombia
After taking part in four successive FIFA Futsal World Cups, including the most recent tournament they hosted four years ago, Thailand were one of the Asian teams that harboured serious hopes of advancing to Colombia 2016. The Thais took an initial step towards that goal by comfortably qualifying for the AFC Futsal Championship, finishing top of Group A in the ASEAN Zone. They continued to impress at the continental tournament, winning Group C with three victories – against Vietnam, Chinese Taipei and Tajikistan – and easily defeating Australia 6-1 in the quarter-finals, a result that secured their place at the Futsal World Cup for the fifth time. In the semi-finals, Thailand lost out on penalties to Uzbekistan, after the match had ended 2-2, but they consoled themselves with an 8-0 rout of fellow World Cup qualifiers Vietnam in the match for third place.
Strengths and style
The changes that were made to the Thai squad four years ago have now started to bear fruit and the newcomers who came in gained valuable experience at the 2012 Futsal World Cup, where Dutch coach Victor Hermans - who is still at the helm - guided his side to the knockout stages. Key players in their prime include 26-year-old Suphawut Thueanklang, who topped the scoring charts at the AFC Futsal Championship with 14 goals.
FIFA Futsal World Cup record
Thailand, who first qualified for the Futsal World Cup in 2000, have established themselves as one of the best teams in Asia in recent years. Since that breakthrough outing, they have competed at every World Cup, and Colombia 2016 will constitute their fifth appearance on the global stage. After being eliminated during the group phase in 2000, 2004 and 2008, the Thais reached the Round of 16 on home soil in 2012, losing to eventual finalists Spain.