Preview by Chris McAsey
The Thailand Tigers’ men have had a solid lead-up to the Champs, training twice per week and competing in domestic competition on weekends.
The Tigers’ Warwick Baglin says the team should be in ‘peak form’ for 9 September in Chon Buri. But with their undefeated campaign in 2022 in mind, is it all downhill from here?
‘There are no backwards steps in Asian Football,’ Warwick says. ‘And the Tigers don’t plan on taking one this year.
‘No doubt other clubs will have us in their sights, but we have been training hard all year to defend this title.’
While the developing Tigers women struggled in 2022, they have been working hard under captain/coach Kay Holt. The recent arrival of new players and development of local women’s talent through the Khlong Toey community program bodes well for an improved showing in 2023.
The Tigers’ development program in the Khlong Toey community combines football with education.
Players backing up from last year’s Champs
The Tigers have retained the core of their men’s squad from last year’s Champs. The retirement of inspirational captain Dave Shields was a blow, but key players including coach Gunny, midfielders Mani, Paz, Jmac and Joffrey and goal sneak Wellby bring lots of experience to the Tigers line-up. Samo and his inspirational hamstrings will also be gracing the field in 2023.
The women’s team has lost a few players this year to an overlapping commitment, but captain/coach Kay has been driving high standards on the training paddock so those who are playing look primed for Chon Buri.
The long-standing program is starting to pay dividends, with up to 13 Khlong Toey players to make their senior debut in 2023.
New gun players to watch out for
The man they call Big Drew is a major inclusion for 2023. Coming off a successful campaign in the dojo, he is in top shape for the tournament. The size of a brick outhouse and with hands like buckets, he will be a key man in the Tigers defence.
The women have recently welcomed Kym and Tarli from Australia who are keen as mustard to take the field to represent the Tigers.
The local talent
The Khlong Toei community program run by the Tigers has been paying dividends in 2023. K. Bon was promoted earlier in the year to the Tiger’s men’s team that took on Malaysia in Kanchanaburi.
The Tigers are expecting up to 8 men (Division 3) and 5 women players from the community program to make their full Tiger’s debut at the Champs.
The Tigers’ Thai stalwarts Rut, Wu-tang and Tud will also be gracing the field again at the Champs this year.
The Thailand Tigers training hard ahead of the 2023 Asian Championships campaign.