Published on July 16, 2007
There has been no doubt about the regional domination of the Thai team, who two years ago further stamped their authority by clinching the SEA Games title for the seventh time in a row in the Philippines. However, it is a different matter on a bigger stage.
Thailand have usually come a cropper in the international arena as they have never finished better than fourth place in the Asian Games and have never come close to realising their dream of a World Cup finals appearance.
The fact that the Thai team have never gone past the Asian Cup preliminary round since 1972, when they also hosted the competition, is an evidence of a systemic failure.
However, Chanvit's men, who are in second place behind leaders Iraq with four points, will head into today's crunch match against the Australians, knowing that a draw is sufficient to carry them into the knock-out stages.
Having witnessed his side defy the odds to come within touching distance of qualification for the first time in 35 years, Chanvit has encouraged his team to demonstrate that they could compete at the international level.
"If Thailand want to step up to the Asian level, then we have to show we can play well against Australia tomorrow," said Chanvit.
"At the beginning of the tournament, some people thought Thailand will be third or fourth but we have shown we are capable of topping the group. Tomorrow is another step towards the next round and as always we will turn the pressure into determination."
Chanvit kept his cards close to his chest when asked about the possible line-up. So, it remained unclear whether pacy forward Pipat Thonkanya and young star striker Teeratep "Leesaw" Winothai, who were instrumental in the convincing 2-0 victory over Oman on Thursday, with the former scoring a brace and the latter creating both goals, would figure in the list.
Young centre-back Kiatprawut Saiwaew is likely to return to the bench despite an impressive performance against Oman if Jetsada Jitsawad is able to recover from his thigh injury.
A question mark also hangs over the availability of key midfielder Datsakorn Thonglao who yesterday married his college sweetheart at the team's hotel.
With the significance of the game, it was anticipated that a capacity crowd would pack the stadium, something which Thai players are not used to as they normally play in front of a handful of fans.
Australia's under-fire coach Graham Arnold, whose side was expected to dominate the group but are fighting for their survival instead, doubted whether the hosts were mentally strong enough for what has been billed as one of the most important matches in Thai football.
Arnold, whose side must win and hope the result in the group's other match goes in their favour to qualify for the quarter-finals, claimed that his side were more comfortable to play in such high-pressure games, something that Chanvit found it difficult to contend with.
"Part of his comment is true," conceded the former Asian Coach of the Year.
"Most of the Australian players are from the European leagues so definitely they will be stronger mentally as they play in some of the strongest leagues in the world while many of the Thais are semi-professional and some are university students.
"But when it comes to the game, it is not always being mentally stronger that makes a team win. There will be other factors, which we might see tomorrow.
"As we saw in the past two Australia matches, they score with headers and like to cross the ball from wide positions so we have to prepare for aerial attacks.
"But Australia also have weaknesses as you saw against Oman and Iraq and we will try to exploit this.
"It will be an exciting match as Australia have to play for three points. They will attack us intensively but we are not expecting only to draw. We have our tactics to open the game."
The match will take place at Rajamangala National Stadium. The game, which kicks off at 7.35pm, will be shown live on Channel 7 and Star Sports.