AFC's choice of referee irks Kiatisak

Thai players during a training session on Monday.

While taking a swipe at the Asian Football Confederation's choice of match referee for Thailand's World Cup qualifier with Saudi Arabia on Thursday, national team coach Kiatisak Senamuang said his men are ready for all eventualities.

Thailand face Group B leaders Saudi Arabia at Rajamangala National Stadium as the final phase of Asian qualifiers for Russia 2018 restart after a four-month break.

Kiatisak, whose team are at the bottom of the group with only one point from five matches, yesterday said the AFC should not have selected match officials from the Middle East region for the game, which will be broadcast live on Channel 7 starting at 7pm.

The AFC has assigned Bahrain referee Ali Hasan Ebrahim Abdulnabi and his two compatriots to officiate the match.

Kiastisak said: "We have no say in selecting referees, but the AFC should have assigned one from a neutral country. That is how it has been done in the past and the AFC should have continued the tradition.

"In any case, it is something beyond our control and we cannot do anything about it.

"The only thing that we can do is to prepare the team well for the match. We are in fact ready for everything."

Meanwhile, the Sports Authority of Thailand (SAT) has announced that it will set up giant screens on the sprawling lawns outside the stadium to facilitate fans who are unable to purchase tickets for the match between Thailand and Saudi Arabia.

The SAT yesterday confirmed that these screens would be provided within the vicinity of the Hua Mark sports complex, which is also the home of the 50,000-seat match venue.

The Thai team are hoping the vociferous support of the Thai fans at the venue will give them a boost in their bid for victory against the Saudis in the qualifier.

After Thursday's match, Thailand next face Japan on March 28.

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