Sarachat: My goal is to help Thailand qualify for the World Cup

28 May 2021
  • Supachok Sarachat is a rising star for both Buriram United and Thailand

  • Young attacker has so far excelled during Qatar 2022 qualifiers

  • Aims to fire War Elephants to maiden FIFA World Cup qualification

Asia's postponed qualifying campaign for 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar™ is set to reach its conclusion over the coming fortnight with Group G arguably the most intriguing. Southeast Asian heavyweights Thailand, who are hopeful of overhauling leaders Vietnam, resume with a meeting against group strugglers Indonesia on Thursday. There is little margin for error for Akira Nishino's War Elephants ahead of remaining matches against centralised hosts United Arab Emirates and Malaysia in Dubai.

Thailand will undoubtedly be looking to young attacker Supachok Sarachat to emulate his heroics in the two sides' previous meeting. Nearly two years ago now, the Buriram United midfielder stole the show in Jakarta, scoring twice and setting up another to help his side to a resounding 3-0 victory against the Indonesians.

Fledgling international star

"The goals [against Indonesia] were important for me," Sarachat, who turned 23 last month, told FIFA.com in a recent exclusive interview. "It felt like a huge weight lifted off my chest, because in our opening goalless draw against Vietnam, I missed the target. So the victory took the pressure off me and put ourselves back into contention."

Sarachat went on to start in their next three outings where Thailand obtained a victory and a draw to sit in third, three points adrift of surprise packets Vietnam. Through his excellent performances, the youngster has become a breakout star for the War Elephants.

"I would like to thank coach Nishino for the trust he has placed in me," he said. "Since he took charge of our team, I have been given more chances so I can showcase what I am capable of."

Supachok Sarachart (#10) and Suphanat Mueanta (#17) of Thailand celebrate victory over Bahrain

Fruitful year amid challenges

As if to prove that his showings for the national team were not a one-off, Sarachat continued his eye-catching form on the domestic stage during the 2020 season managing to score 12 times in all competitions with Buriram United.

"I am very pleased with my performances and [it has been] my highest scoring tally in a single season thus far. We had gone through a hard period due to the outbreak of Covid-19. The league was postponed for a long time but we were working hard throughout. And it proved a memorable year for me as I scored quite a few goals, including managing a hat-trick.”

At international level, meanwhile, Sarachat figured prominently for Thailand in the 2020 AFC U-23 Championship. He completed a brace in their 5-0 rout of Bahrain and helped Thailand to the last eight only to lose to 1-0 eventual finalists Saudi Arabia.

"It has to be one of the proudest moments in my career. We made history by reaching the quarter-final stage. The tournament also gave me the experience to play against some of the continent biggest footballing nations, and also an opportunity to play against some of the brightest youth stars in Asian football."

Sibling attacking partnership

Sarachat isn’t alone in impressing for Buriram United with his brother Suphanat Mueanta - who is four years younger - also a lethal weapon upfront for the club. In fact, the siblings form part of the Thai League's most formidable frontlines in concert with Supachai Jaided, another promising star for club and country. With both Mueanta and Jaided also featuring in Thailand's squad for this month’s World Cup qualifying matches, Sarachat is hoping the trio can translate their club form to the international front.

"Playing alongside Suphanat and Supachai is a joy because we are all youngsters," he said. "As team-mates, we have the same goal and great understanding between each other. Being of almost the same age really helps us to communicate smoothly. Our relationship on and off the pitch also helps us to understand each other and that directly impact our plays on the field when representing club and country."

Thailand have never qualified for a World Cup but with the team hopeful of progressing to the next round, Sarachat voiced his hopes of realising the nation’s footballing dream. "My ultimate goals are to win the AFC Champions League with my club," he said. "But when it comes to the national team, it will have to be helping Thailand to the World Cup. If Thailand qualify to the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar it will undoubtedly go down as my greatest achievement as a footballer and I will do my best to achieve this goal.”

Notable facts

2011: Joined the Buriram United academy at the age of 13 years old 2015: Debuted for Buriram United’s senior team two months past his seventeenth birthday 2017: Youngest hat-trick scorer in the Thai League, aged 18 years old and 9 months 2017: Named FA Thailand Young Player of the Year

Thailand's Supachok Sarachat (M) plays the ball forward