Saturday, July 7, 2007

Bangkok gears up for Asian Cup kick-off

The most hotly anticipated Asian Cup on record is set to kick-off in Bangkok, when co-hosts Thailand take on Iraq at Rajamangala National Stadium in the tournament opener on July 7.

The sixteen team extravaganza will kick-off under grey skies in the east of the Thai capital, with the oppressive humidity expected to play into the hands of the energetic Thais.

Thailand coach Chanvit Polchavin has been in a bullish mood in the build-up to the competition, claiming that his team has "no one to fear."

Iraq, meanwhile, have seen their preparation for the tournament hampered by the on-going conflict currently ravaging the war-torn country.

Nevertheless the physically imposing Iraqis will be aiming to make their fourth successive quarter-final appearance at this tournament, with their opener against Thailand setting out to be a classic case of brain versus brawn.

Thailand's star striker Teerathep Winothai has called on locals to pack the 60,000 capacity Rajamangala National Stadium, as the Thais look to get off to the best possible start in a group that also contains Oman and Asian Cup debutant Australia.

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