The 2019 AFC Asian Cup draw has produced a difficult challenge for Indian national team in Group A alongside hosts UAE, South-East Asian giants Thailand and old foes Bahrain. In Thailand, India are set to face off against one of the most successful teams from the South-East Asian region.
Thailand's recent form has been hotchpotch. After the impressive World Cup Qualification campaign which ended with a narrow 1-2 defeat to Australia, the War Elephants failed to defend the King's Cup title in their homeland. King's Cup is an annual tournament organized by the Thailand Football Association and a 2-3 defeat to Slovakia in the final of the tournament is Thailand's most recently concluded fixture.
1. World Cup Qualifier - AUSTRALIA 2-1 THAILAND
On September 5, 2017, Thailand's qualifying campaign for the World Cup came to an end with a defeat against Australia. Tomi Juric broke the deadlock for the defending Asian Cup champions but Pokklaw Anan levelled the scoreline in the 82nd minute through a penalty. Just as it looked like Thailand registered their first point on the board, harsh reality came back to haunt the Asian side as Mathew Leckie gave Australians a 2-1 win.
Australia were heavy favourites for this one and it was a valiant performance by Thailand to give them a late fright. The possession and match stats side heavily in favour of the winning team.
The defeat to Australia was the last game of a winless third round of World Cup qualifying campaign for Thailand. They lost eight and drew two out of their ten games in the group stage.
2. Friendly - MYANMAR 1-3 THAILAND
Goals from Mongkol Thosakrai (12') Teerasil Dangda (32') and Thitiphan Puangjan (P - 78') sealed a 3-1 win for Thailand over Myanmar in an international friendly in October 2017.
The danger posed by striker Teerasil Dangda was on show as the Muangthong United star finished off a brilliant team move to register his 41st international goal.
3. Friendly - THAILAND 1-0 KENYA
A few days after their win over regional rivals Myanmar, Thailand registered another friendly win over Kenya. Teerasil scored the only goal as the War Elephants edged past the Harambee Stars. Several first-team stars, including Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Vicor Wanyama, were absent for the friendly.
4. 2018 King's Cup - THAILAND 0 (4) - (2) 0 GABON
On 22 March 2018, Thailand resumed their King's Cup title defence. An engaging ninety minutes of action failed to break the deadlock and the match entered a shoot-out in which Thailand emerged as victors.
In the shootout, Gabon's André Biyogo Poko and Axel Méyé failed to convert their spot-kicks, while Peerapat Notchaiya missed from the spot for the hosts. Slovakia awaited the winners in the final.
5. 2018 King's Cup Final - SLOVAKIA 3-2 Thailand
After struggling in front of goal in the last few games, Thailand produced an open-ended display in their last game. Slovakia were off to a fast start as Ondrej Duda broke the deadlock in the 10th minute and Róbert Mak doubled their lead in the 34th minute.
A goalkeeping blunder allowed Jakkaphan Kaewprom to pull one back three minutes before half-time and an impressive performance from Thailand in the second half ensued.
Although the War Elephants piled the pressure on the European team, it was Slovakia who scored their third goal through Erik Pačinda's curler from outside the box. Pansa Hemviboon pulled one back one again for Thailand but they couldn't add to their tally and their title defence ended 3-2 in favour of new champions Slovakia.
Thailand will take on India in the AFC Asian Cup 2019 on January 6, 2019, but they have the 2018 AFF Championship to contest before that. Coach Milovan Rajevac's concern would be in the final third of the pitch where his team haven't fired on all cylinders lately.