Supachok Sarachat and Thailand reached the knockout stages of the 2023 AFC Asian Cup, marking the second consecutive continental championship in which the War Elephants reached the final 16.
Thailand made it through the group stage unbeaten, beating Kyrgyzstan, 2-0, in the opener before a pair of scoreless draws sent them through. Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo man Supachok started all three of their group stage contests and his touch before the second goal against Kyrgyzstan proved crucial to Thailand’s victory.
Supachok started their last-16 clash against Uzbekistan on the bench, but entered after half-time with the War Elephants down 1-0 and immediately made his mark with a gorgeous long distance curler that found the corner of the net for a massive equalizer.
Unfortunately for Thailand, Uzbekistan scored late on to eliminate the War Elephants, 2-1, but the tournament was another impressive display for the Thai national side.
Thailand had failed to qualify for four consecutive tournaments before five straight group stage exits in the 1990s and 2000s. Then they missed the competition altogether again in 2011 and 2015, but the last two editions have been smashing successes.
The 2019 and 2023 Asian Cups have seen Thailand produce Round of 16 appearances in both, led by J.League stars and alums like Supachok, former Vissel Kobe and Yokohama F·Marinos man Theerathon Bunmathan and former Consadole and Kawasaki Frontale star Chanathip Songkrasin.