Thailand's status as one of Asia's futsal heavyweights is beyond dispute. On four occasions, the Thais have finished third in the AFC Futsal Championship, and in 2008 they went all the way to the final. Nor are the War Elephants strangers to the global stage, having featured in the past three FIFA Futsal World Cups. Although they have yet to progress beyond the first round in their trio of prior appearances, they have put in some excellent showings including a 3-2 win over Australia at Chinese Taipei 2004, before inflicting a 5-3 defeat on USA in Brazil four years ago.
Recent years have seen a changing of the guard in Thailand, with a host of talented youngsters breaking into the national team to fill the void left by some former stalwarts. Leading the up-and-comers is 22-year-old striker Suphawut Thueanklang, who has been scoring regularly for both club and country.
Awarded automatic qualification for this year’s FIFA Futsal World Cup as the host nation, Thailand have set their sights on making history. They may have failed to live up to expectations in the 2010 AFC Futsal Championship, crashing out to China in the quarter-finals, but coach Victor Hermans' new-look side are aiming to shrug off past disappointment and provide a strong showing. “Our goal is to reach the quarter-finals in the World Cup on our home soil,” Thailand team manager Suttipun Wanwinwes told FIFA.com. “We will make the best of the next ten months, which includes the 2012 Asian championship, to prepare the team to make sure that happens.”
Facts and figures
Suphawut Thueanklang, Surapong Tompa
Qualification in numbers
Thailand qualified automatically as hosts.
2 - The number of matches Thailand have won in their three previous FIFA Futsal World Cups.