China, Thailand seek early lift
Bangkok: Fresh from their 1-0 victory over Myanmar, Marcelo Lippi’s China PR will face Thailand in an International friendly at the Rajamangala Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand on Saturday.
The Dragons will be hoping to build on their good form and a win will raise the confidence in the dressing room ahead of their appearance in the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019.
Thailand, too, will be aiming for a win ahead of their UAE 2019 campaign.
The 73rd-ranked East Asians and the Thais have both won twice in their last five meetings with China winning their last encounter 3-0 in 2014.
Lippi welcomes back goalkeeper Zhang Lu, who made his first team debut in a 2-0 friendly loss against Portugal in 2010.
The Tianjin Quanjian shot stopper’s impressive form in the Chinese Super League and the 2018 AFC Champions League has earned him a call-up after eight years.
“I am familiar with the sense of honour and mission when we play for the country. It feels familiar but yet a little foreign as I will be under Lippi for the first time and I am grateful for that," said Zhang.
Centre-back Wu Hao, who featured against Thailand in 2014, recalls winning the battle at the Wuhan Olympic Sports Centre.
“It was Wu Jian’s top performance that resulted in the Thai goalkeeper Kosin Hathairattanakool scoring an own goal and helping us break the deadlock in the second half. Although they lost the match, the Thais have improved since then and have raised their game,” said Wu Hao.
Milovan Rajevac's Thailand who came in second to Slovakia in the 2018 King’s Cup, will take the match against China as a warm-up before the AFF Championship where they will face the likes of Philippines, Indonesia and Singapore in November.
Defender Manuel Bihr revealed that they are looking forward to meeting the Chinese national team and their Italian coach Marcello Lippi.
"The Thai national team is now in a high standard. Our coach (Rajevac) is very experienced. And there are players returning from Japan and Belgium. So I think we can win against the Chinese."
"Of course I'm excited. He (Lippi) is a great trainer like our coach. I respect him because he won many championships. So I look forward to meeting with China and see what he can do."
Sources: Chinese Football Association, Football Association of Thailand