Big guns Chanathip, Kawin, Theerathon headline Thailand's AFF Suzuki Cup quest

Five-time AFF Suzuki Cup champions Thailand will be looking to reclaim their status as kings of Southeast Asian football after being deposed in recent years by neighbours Vietnam. AP Photo/Hassan Ammar

Thailand have issued a statement of intent in their quest to reclaim their status as kings of Southeast Asian football at the upcoming AFF Suzuki Cup, after announcing a 30-man squad for the tournament boasting some of their biggest names.

In his first major test since being handed the reins of the War Elephants back in September, coach Alexandre Polking has mainly opted for tried-and-tested personnel including five overseas-based players.

The quintet includes Belgium-based goalkeeper Kawin Thamsatchanan, as well as playmaker Chanathip Songkrasin and left-back Theerathon Bunmathan, who both currently ply their trade in Japan's J1 League.

In particular, the selection of Kawin -- widely regarded as the region's best shot-stopper over the past decade -- will come as a huge boost given the tournament clashes with the European domestic football calendar and, given it does not fall during a FIFA international window, clubs are not obliged to release players.

Rising star Thanawat Suengchitthawon, currently on the books of Premier League outfit Leicester, was also named by Polking alongside Odense's Jonathan Khemdee, who is one of four uncapped players in the squad.

After sitting out the previous edition of the Suzuki Cup, veteran striker Teerasil Dangda -- a three-time top scorer of the competition with over 100 caps to his name -- is also a chance to lead the line, although he will face stiff competition from Adisak Kraisorn and Supachai Jaided.

Despite Polking's affinity with former club Bangkok United, there is a wide spread of players from some of the biggest teams in the Thai League 1.

While Bangkok United and Buriram United are jointly the best-represented sides with five players apiece, Polking has also called up four each from BG Pathum United and Port, while Muangthong United have a trio of players selected.

With five titles to their name, Thailand are the most-successful nation in AFF history but have recently been usurped as frontrunners of the region by Vietnam, who won the last tournament in 2018.

Having been drawn in Group A, the Thais kick off their campaign on Dec. 5 against minnows Timor-Leste and then face Myanmar and Philippines before finishing their group-stage campaign on Dec. 18 against rivals Singapore, whom they have lost to in both the 2007 and 2012 finals.

Thailand squad for the 2020 AFF Suzuki Cup

Goalkeepers: Kawin Thamsatchanan (OH Leuven), Siwarak Tedsungnoen (Buriram United), Chatchai Budprom (BG Pathum United)

Defenders: Theerathon Bunmathan (Yokohama F. Marinos), Tristan Do, Peerapat Notchaiya, Manuel Bihr (Bangkok United), Narubadin Weerawatnodom, Pansa Hemviboon (Buriram United), Philip Roller, Elias Dolah (Port), Jonathan Khemdee (Odense)

Midfielders: Chanathip Songkrasin (Consadole Sapporo), Sarach Yooyen, Pathompol Charoenrattanapirom (BG Pathum United), Pokklaw Anan, Thitipan Puangchan (Bangkok United), Supachok Sarachat (Buriram United), Bordin Phala, Pakorn Prempak (Port), Sivakorn Tiatrakul, Phitiwat Sukjitthammakul (Chiangrai United), Thanawat Suengchitthawon (Leicester), Picha Autra, Weerathep Pomphan (Muangthong United), Worachit Kanitsribampen, Kritsada Kaman (Chonburi)

Forwards: Teerasil Dangda (BG Pathum United), Adisak Kraisorn (Muangthong United), Supachai Jaided (Buriram United)