Ekanit eager to help Thailand

Ekanit eager to help Thailand

Forward Ekanit Panya, who is nearing his full fitness, is ready to help Thailand in next month’s World Cup qualifiers.

Thailand’s Ekanit Panya. PR

The 21-year-old star did not play for his club Chiang Rai United, who won the FA Cup, in the final stretch of last season due to an injury.

“I have been trying to regain my fitness and should become fully fit soon,” Ekanit said yesterday before Thailand left for the United Arab Emirates.

“I hope I will be able to help Thailand in the upcoming three World Cup qualifiers. We have to play with confidence to get good results which we are looking for.”

A total of 39 Thai players left for the UAE last night while Chanathip Songkrasin, who is playing for Japan’s Consadole Sapporo, and Thanawat Euengchitthawon, of English club Leicester City, will join them in Dubai later.

According the the Football Association of Thailand, national coach Akira Nishino did not trim the squad to 23 players because each team can make changes to the roster before each match.

Also, Nishino did not see much of his men in training before they left for the UAE because many of them had to enter quarantine after two tested positive for Covid-19 earlier this month.

Meanwhile, striker Teerasil Dangda and defender Theerathon Bunmathan have pulled out of the squad.

The War Elephants will play two warm-up matches against Oman on May 25 and Tajikistan on May 29.

They will then play their remaining three Group G matches of Asia’s second qualifying stage for the 2022 World Cup against Indonesia on June 3, the UAE on June 7 and Malaysia on June 15.

With the top eight group winners and four best runners-up advancing to the next round, the War Elephants have a slim chance of reaching Asia’s third and final qualifying stage.

After five games, Vietnam lead the group with 11 points, followed by Malaysia (nine) and Thailand (eight).

The UAE have six points from four games while Indonesia have no points.

Meanwhile, the 2023 Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand will be held from July 20-Aug 20, Fifa said.

Auckland’s Eden Park will host the opener, while the final will be played at Sydney’s Stadium Australia.