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Niweat backs Thailand to win title number four

Veteran defender Niweat Siriwong is confident Thailand will put a disappointing 2010 campaign behind them and win the AFF Suzuki Cup for a record fourth time later this year.

Niweat answered a call from coach Winfried Schafer to come out of international retirement last year and feels the German can lead Thailand back to the summit of Asean football.

"I think we will be champions," Niweat told in a wide-ranging interview. "No (I don’t worry about Malaysia). With Winfried Schafer as coach I am sure we will win the AFF Suzuki Cup."

Thailand will host Group A in November with games against 2008 champions Vietnam, Philippines, who were a revelation in the 2010 tournament when they reached the semi-finals for the first time, and the winners of the qualifying tournament.

Niweat, currently skippering Pattaya United in the Thai Premier League after playing stints in Vietnam and Singapore, celebrated his 35th birthday earlier this month and hinted that the 2012 AFF Suzuki Cup would be his international swansong.

"(At the) end of this year we do have a major tournament with the AFF Suzuki Cup," said Niweat, who has more than a century of caps for Thailand. "Maybe after this I will stop my international career."

Niweat, who did not play in the 2010 edition of the AFF Suzuki Cup when Thailand failed to reach the knock-out stage, said that Schafer was scouring the country for new talent.

"He is a very good coach. He gives a lot of opportunities to young players, no matter where they play," he said.

"Winnie (Schafer) is watching a lot of games in Thailand and every time he sees a player and thinks he is good enough, he invites him, because sometimes you can also find good players in the leagues below the Thai Premier League. He is seeing so many games at different places and scouting players."

Thailand will play a Thai Premier League All-Star side on August 15 to kick-start their preparation for the AFF Suzuki Cup.