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Doha: Head coach Kiatisuk Senamuang is targeting a place in the AFC U23 Championship Qatar 2016 knockout phase for his highly rated Thailand side.

Having booked their place at the continental gathering thanks to finishing as the first best second placed team during the qualifiers, the reigning Southeast Asian champions now have a tough task ahead of them after being drawn alongside continental heavyweights Japan, Saudi Arabia and DPR Korea in Group B of the tournament which is set to run from January 12 until January 30.

However since reaching Doha on January 3, Kiatisuk’s charges - including centre-back Tanaboon Kesarat and full-back Tristan Do who both returned from injury in time for selection - have been acclimatising well and defeated fellow title hopefuls Yemen 1-0 in a friendly on Friday.

AFC U23 Championship. The Contenders: Thailand

With their preparations progressing and a large degree of positivity surrounding the camp, Kiatisuk is eager for his team to show the watching world just what they are capable of.

“We arrived quite early in Doha to adjust to the conditions here because we've three strong teams to face in our tough group," he told the-afc.com ahead of Thailand’s opening game against Saudi Arabia on Wednesday.

“We want to do our best and progress to the next round. That's our target.

“When we reached here, we found the Doha weather chilly and windy, while it has been a lot hotter in our Asean region. In four to five days we were able to adjust however, so looking back, the decision to come here ten days ahead of the tournament was a good one.

“Our boys are training hard and sleeping well. The mood in our dressing room is quite upbeat. We want to put up a good performance and show our fans in Doha as well as back home in our country that Thai football is progressing in a good way.”

Some 16 teams will vie for honours at the AFC U23 Championship which has added significance as the top three finishers will book a berth at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

Thailand's Group B Fixtures

January 13: Saudi Arabia v Thailand (Grand Hamad Stadium, Doha)
January 16: Thailand v Japan (Grand Hamad Stadium, Doha)
January 19: DPR Korea v Thailand (Grand Hamad Stadium, Doha) 

AFC U23 Championship Qatar 2016: Full Fixture List

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