With the AFC U-23 Championship 2020 qualifiers just around the corner, teams are certainly getting ready as they try to fight for one of 15 spots available in the final tournament.
Only Thailand are assured a spot as they are tournament hosts but have gone on to compete in the qualifiers as well.
And in Group K, there are certainly many compelling battles on the horizon as they play Indonesia, Brunei and cluster hosts Vietnam.
Taking part of the qualifiers while already being secured a seat at the final table helps the War Elephants in preparation, while also seeing how they stack up against possible opponents.
However, many are eagerly anticipating how one particular player will do – 16-year-old Suphanat Mueanta.
The prospect is blazing a trail in the Thai football scene and many believe that the AFC U-23 Championship 2020 qualifiers will be his coming-out party for all to see.
YOUNGEST GOAL SCORER IN THAI LEAGUE HISTORY
Thai Sub – ‘I didn’t expect that I’d be playing today’ – Suphanat Mueanta
At such a young age, Suphanat has already turned heads as he scored a goal in Thai League 1 at a young age of 15 years, nine months and 22 days old.
Playing for Buriram United, he did it against Air Force Central.
Furthermore, it wasn’t simply a regular performance for the teenager, but Suphanat managed to score two goals in the 5-0 thrashing of their rivals.
It was definitely a performance to remember and that record is likely to stand for a long, long time.
UNMATCHED CONFIDENCE IN THE INTERNATIONAL STAGE
AFC U-23 Championship: Suphanat Mueanta, Thailand’s next big star?
If being the youngest goal scorer in Thai League 1 history doesn’t impress you, then playing big for the national team should be taken into consideration.
At only 14 years old, Suphanat already scored his first international goal for Thailand when they went up against Qatar.
In the same Jockey Club Tournament 2017, he would go on to score six goals in only three appearances. This includes a brace against Singapore and an impressive hat trick against host country Hong Kong.
He would go on and produce incredible performances in the AFF U-15 Championship 2017, Japan-ASEAN Youth Tournament 2017 and AFC U-16 Championship 2018 to put his tally to an impressive 19 goals in only 16 appearances.
For the U-19 squad, he has done the same, recording four goals in six appearances for the youth team.
READY FOR THE BIG STAGE
Now, at only 16 years old, Suphanat is ready to dive into the deep end as he is set to debut in the U-23 squad.
Given his age, there might be some doubts as he goes up against bigger and stronger athletes. Those who are near the age threshold might feel they have the advantage over the much-younger Suphanat.
However, given the track record, it is extremely difficult to count the starlet out as he has been impressive in nearly all the stages he’s been in.
Playing for one of the best teams in Thailand, Buriram United, Suphanat is ready for the challenge and is capable to play amongst the trees.
And with Thailand having to play worry-free in the qualifiers, this could be a chance for Suphanat to turn from prospect to superstar.
Photo courtesy of IndoSport