Thailand have been part of Asian Zone qualifying since they first attempted to reach the FIFA World Cup™ in 1974. Their best showing came in the 2002 preliminaries, when they topped their first-phase group before finishing bottom of their second-round section. In South Africa 2010 qualifying, the Thais eliminated Macau and Yemen to reach the third round, where they finished bottom of a group also featuring Japan, Bahrain and Oman. It was a similar story in their Brazil 2014 campaign as the War Elephants turned in highly competitive performances under Winfried Schafer, only to receive the wooden spoon in a tough group which also featured Australia, Oman and Saudi Arabia.
The current squad are relatively light on for experience with just a handful of players boasting more than 50 caps. Chief among them is Thailand’s most celebrated player Teerasil Dangda, with the striker even enjoying a brief spell in Spain at Almeria. Thailand enter Russia 2018 qualifying as south-east Asia’s best side after being crowned AFF Suzuki Cup kings in late 2014 to end a lengthy 12-year drought.
The legendary Kiatisuk Senamuang added to his star status by becoming the first person to win the AFF Suzuki Cup as both a player and coach. Senamuang was a free-scoring No9 during a stellar 15-year national team career in which he became Thailand’s most capped player and highest goalscorer.
1974 – Thailand are one of Asia’s longest serving World Cup qualifying participants having first attempted to qualify for West Germany 1974.
The former stars
Piyapong Pue-On, Kiatisuk Senamuang