19-year-old Supachai Jaided was added to the Thailand squad for the AFF Suzuki Cup 2018 as a relatively lesser-known commodity. Called up to enhance their attacking prospects, it is fair to say the striker has justified his inclusion after scoring two goals for the War Elephants in the group stage.
His first goal in the tournament came against Timor Leste where he scored in the 91st minute as Thailand ripped their opponents to shreds with a resounding 7-0 scoreline. Jaided’s second goal, however, was much more crucial to Thailand’s fortunes.
He scored his team’s opener against the Philippines at Bacolod and that would have been the winner of the game but for Thai goalkeeper Chatchai Budprom’s fatal error that led to the Philippines’ equaliser at the death.
Jaided, standing at 6 ft tall with a lean build is a bit of a far cry from the archetypal no.9. Hailing from Pattani, the Buriram United striker did not dream of playing football professionally until he was afforded the opportunity to practice at the Pattani Provincial Stadium under coach Seri Ahmed.
He was one of the 10 10-year-olds who were selected to be sent to Sweden from the academy and since then, there has been no looking back for the youngster. After turning 14, Supachai got called up to the national setup at the age level.
Supachai announced his arrival on the international stage in 2015 by winning the AFF U19 Championship with the Thailand U19s.
In addition to playing as a striker, the Pattani-born attacker has amassed adequate experience playing in the midfield and hence versatility is one of the attributes that make him stand out.
Supachai is a pacy presence on the pitch and has got quick-feet to match his ambition. He does not shy away from testing the goalkeeper from range and defenders would do well to not afford him space in the final third as he has quite a menacing right foot.
Jaided has grown in prominence at Thai League giants Buriram and appeared 31 times this season, starting 15 times and scoring two goals. He also scored twice for the Thailand U23 team in three appearances but what is noteworthy is the fact that all 3 of those appearances came off the bench.
His versatility underscores Thailand’s decision to pick him as the last member to their squad for the AFF Suzuki Cup as he offers them a chance to bolster either their attack or midfield according to the need of the hour.
Supachai Jaided will be one of Thailand’s secret weapons as they prepare to take on Singapore in a crunch encounter that will decide which teams will go through to the semi-finals from Group B.
(Photos credit: Football Association of Thailand)