Senamuang hoping Thailand make a statement

Thailand coach Kiatisak Senamuang believes that his side's 2018 World Cup qualifier against Iraq is an opportunity for Thailand to show they are a growing force in Asian football.

The War Elephants won their opening qualifiers against Vietnam and Taiwan, and Senamuang believes that they can further strengthen their reputation as the best team in Southeast Asia if they emerge victorious against a side ranked 55 places ahead of them on the FIFA world rankings.

"I think it should be an interesting match," Senamuang told the Bangkok Post. "We are the best team in Asean [Southeast Asia]. If we can beat Iraq, it will help raise our stature at the Asian level." 

Thailand goalkeeper Sinthaweechai Hathairattanakool has taken a cautious approach to the fixture and warned his team-mates that Iraq are a talented side.

"Iraq are one of Asia's top 10 teams, so the quality of the team and the potential of their players are much better than our team," he said. "I have played with many teams from the Middle East, so I would like to warn my teammates, especially defenders, to be careful of their aerial attacks. We should also not concede free-kicks near the penalty area." 

Iraq head coach Yahya Alwan has left no room for interpretation regarding his side's intentions as they look to maintain their perfect record. 

"We are here to get three points," he said. "We did not come here for a draw or a loss. We have a lot of new players but so have the Thai team. This is an important match for both teams and we are confident that we will win."