For a team that won the Asean Football Federation (AFF) Championship five times and made the final eight times, any finish outside the top two will be regarded as a failure by Thailand.
After being knocked out in the semi-finals in the last edition in 2018, the War Elephants are bringing their big guns — including overseas-based players — to Singapore this year to wrest back the crown.
They include experienced goalkeeper Kawin Thamsatchanan (from Belgium’s OH Leuven), defenders Jonathan Khemdee (Denmark’s Odense BK) and Theerathon Bunmathan (Japan’s Yokohama F. Marinos), influential playmaker Chanathip Songkrasin (Japan‘s Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo) and midfielder Thanawat Suengchitthawon (England’s Leicester City).
This is a major difference from the 2018 squad that comprised all-local-based players, and former Thailand and Laos coach Steve Darby felt the quintet would provide a massive boost.
The 66-year-old Englishman said: “Their overseas experience has not only made them better players but also toughened them up. They are essential for Thailand (to do well at the AFF Suzuki Cup).”