MAE SAI – At the first training session since their teammates went missing in a Thai cave, the remaining "Wild Boars" said they cannot wait to see their friends back on the pitch.
The stunning rescue of 12 boys and their coach earlier this week spurred jubilation in Thailand and made the team famous worldwide.
Though the group are healthy and in good spirits, they remain in an isolation ward waiting for the medical all-clear after more than two weeks stuck deep underground in an environment where they could have been exposed to nasty diseases.
Back in the boys' hometown of Mae Sai their teammates had not practised together since the group went missing, as the area's residents kept an anxious vigil around the cave's entrance.
The remaining team members waited for news that the rescue had succeeded before returning to training on Thursday evening, on a field where they are eager to see their friends again soon.
"I want to tell the guys that I miss them and that I want to hug them," Wild Boars teammate Supaghid Pragaihong told AFP. "I wish them a speedy recovery so we can play football together again."
Wild Boars head coach Nopparat Khantavong said his remaining players were in good spirits after returning to practice knowing their friends were safe.
Thai authorities are planning to set up a museum to the daring rescue operation at the cave site and a Hollywood production house has announced plans for a film version of the group's ordeal.
Agence France-Presse (AFP)