Thailand's team supported in play, pray and pay

Co-host Thailand, aiming to stamp its mark on the Asian Cup, has offered its players a three-million-baht (US$87,000) reward if they make the second round. However, their spiritual needs are not being neglected. The team places as much emphasis on meditation and prayer as it does on physical development with coach Chanvit Pholchovin telling AFP that a relaxed player is a focused player. "The principles of Buddhism are an important part of our sports psychology," he said yesterday ahead of Thailand's opening match of the tournament against Iraq. "If a player is relaxed and does meditation and prays then they are in a positive frame of mind and can focus on their goal, which is to do well. It is very important," he said.

As part of their build up, the team will try and make time to visit a temple ahead of the match. "Most of the players are Buddhist and believe in the lessons of Buddhism," Chanvit said. "If time allows, we will definitely go to a temple, but if time does not allow that will be okay too because we pray every day."