Thailand coach Kiatisuk Senamuang has put his faith in youth after finalising his 22-man squad for the upcoming 2014 AFF Suzuki Cup.
The 41-year-old had raised eyebrows at the end of last month when he named a provisional squad filled with players from the Under-23 side he has been in charge of since last year, leaving out established stars like Teerasil Dangda, Datsakorn Thonglao, Theerathon Bunmathan and Jakkapan Pornsai.
It was initially suggested that Kiatisuk could reverse his decision and include a number of seasoned campaigners in the final cut, but that did not prove to be the case as he confirmed his 22-man roster after Tuesday’s 2-0 win over New Zealand in their final warm-up friendly.
A total of 11 players that have been given the nod were part of the U-23 side that finished a remarkable fourth at the 17th Asian Games earlier this year, including playmaker Chanathip Songkrasin and forward Adisak Kraisorn – who were both in outstanding form in Incheon.
Meanwhile, only six men remain from the side that reached the final in 2012 before losing to Singapore – goalkeeper Kawin Thamsatchanan, left-back Chayapat Kitpongsritada, midfielders Adul Lahso and Chanathip, and forwards Sompong Soleb and Kirati Keawsombat.
As the second most-capped member of the team, Adul has been handed the captaincy by Kiatisuk while Kawin is likely to be his deputy, having skippered the Asian Games side.
Although there are not too many established names in the squad, Thailand are still widely regarded as favourites given the excellent work Kiatisuk has done with the same group of players over the past 12 months, as well as the obvious talent of some of these youngsters.
Apart from the quartet of Kawin, Adul, Chanathip and Adisak, the likes of Suphanburi midfielder Charyl Chappuis and defender Narubodin Weerawatnodom – who recently joined Buriram United from BEC Tero Sasana – are expected to play important roles for the Thais.
The three players from the original list that were cut were Police United duo Pokkhao Anan and Pinyo Inpinit, as well as Chonburi winger Nurul Sriyankem, who misses out through injury.
Thailand’s 22-man squad for the 2014 AFF Suzuki Cup
Goalkeepers: Kawin Thamsatchanan (Muangthong United), Chanin Sae-Eae (Singhtarua)
Defenders: Chayapat Kitpongsritada, Tanaboon Kesarat, Peerapat Notechaiya, Adisorn Promrak (all BEC Tero Sasana), Suttinun Phuk-hom (Chonburi), Narubodin Weerawatnodom (Buriram United), Artit Daosawang (Muangthong United), Pravinwat Boonyong (Bangkok Glass)
Midfielders: Adul Lahso, Kroekrit Thaweekarn (both Chonburi), Chanathip Songkrasin (BEC Tero Sasana), Sarach Yooyen, Sarawut Masuk (both Muangthong United), Monkol Tossagri (Army United), Charyl Chappuis (Suphanburi), Prakit Deeprom (TOT)
Forwards: Kirati Keawsombat (PTT Rayong), Sompong Soleb (Bangkok United), Adisak Kraisorn (BEC Tero Sasana), Chainarong Tathong (Army United)