In the qualifying campaign for the previous FIFA World Cup™, the speedy side from the football-mad land of Thailand lost to their main Group 5 rivals, the United Arab Emirates and Korea DPR, leaving them with a mountain to climb, and an abortive Asian Cup campaign in China offered the wayward side no respite.
The Thais, who reached the final group of qualifying for the 2002 FIFA World Cup, were particularly humiliated by two back-to-back 4-1 defeats against the Koreans, who eventually won the group over much-fancied UAE. Three losses and a goal difference of -8 in the 2004 Asian Cup further continued the downward spiral.
Having dominated the South East Asian stage for many years, lifting the ASEAN Football Federation Championship trophy three times and winning SEA Games gold an incredible twelve times, the team under Chanvit Phalajivin were keen to throw away their tag as the continent's whipping boys.
They proved they could be more than capable of pulling off surprises against Asia's big boys when they stunned China 1-0 in the build-up to the 2007 AFC Asian Cup. In the opening game in the continent's showpiece event, they bravely held eventual champions Iraq to a 1-1 draw, before defeating Oman 2-0. However, needing just a point against Australia to progress to the last eight in the decisive last group match, they were thrashed 4-0 and the Socceroos advanced at their expense.
From there, the Thais went on to impress by storming into Asia's third round of qualifying for South Africa 2010, romping past Macau by an incredible 13-2 aggregate in the opening round before dispatching Yemen in the second.
That, however, proved to be their last major impact in the campaign. Pitted against the likes of Japan, Bahrain and Oman, Chanvit Phalajivin's charges fell short and lost five of their six games, results which cost both his job and the team's spot in the next round. In July of 2008, former Sunderland and Manchester City coach Peter Reid was named as Phalajivin's replacement.