Federation Internationale de Football Association delighted after safe rescue of young Thai footballers and coach

Royal Thai Navy  AFP  Getty Images

Last week, FIFA said it would invite the group to Russian Federation 2018 as soon as they were rescued but the Thai authorities have told world football's governing body that the team will not be fit enough to travel to Sunday's game in Moscow.

"We were able to do the job we were asked to do", said the diver, who like most of the divers assiduously avoided the media during the operation in a mission defined by steely resolve.

After being brought out of the cave, one by one beginning on Sunday, they were taken by helicopter to hospital in the town of Chiang Rai, about 70 km (45 miles) away, to stay in quarantine.

Some of the boys were sitting up in bed and chatting to nurses while others, including the youngest, aged 11, appeared to be asleep.

Hospital director Chaiwetch Thanapaisal said: 'There's no need to worry about their physical or mental health.

In a statement, a Federation Internationale de Football Association spokesperson said: "FIFA would like to express its great joy at the news of the rescue of the 12 young footballers and their coach".

Another video released on Facebook by Thailand's Navy SEALs, who were central to the rescue, apparently shows one of the boys being carried through part of the muddy cave on a stretcher covered by an emergency thermal blanket. Three have slight lung infections.

The first four boys were rescued by a team of 13 foreign diving experts and Thai Navy SEALS, who helped them navigate the flooded cave tunnels.

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One of the Thai doctors said the boys were happy but that psychologists would be evaluating them.

The final four boys and their 25-year-old coach were brought to safety on Tuesday, having entered the network for exploration on June 23 before it became flooded by monsoon rains.

A former Thai Navy SEAL died while helping install oxygen tanks in preparation for the extraction.

Divers extracted the team in a high-risk mission inside the flooded passageways. He lauded the cooperation between Thai and worldwide rescuers.

Meanwhile Thailand's prime minister Prayuth Chan-ocha has thanked people involved in the rescue, saying the government's efforts, the assistance of people in Thailand and overseas, and the outpouring of moral support made the mission a success. They survived by drinking water dripping inside the cave.

Without him, "this mission may not have succeeded", the Thai rescue chief Narongsak Osottanakorn told reporters late on Wednesday. "Everyone worked together without discrimination of race or religion as the ultimate goal was to save the youth football team".

Manchester United, though, tweeted an invitation just after the news that all had been rescued and with the Premier League season lasting from August through to May there will be plenty of time for them to recuperate and opportunity for them to take the offer up.

The 12 boys and their soccer coach lost an average of 2 kg (4.4 lb) during their ordeal but were generally in good condition and showed no signs of stress, a senior health official said earlier.

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