ROBERT THORNTON admits defending champions Scotland face a “tough battle” in the BetVictor World Cup of Darts after drawing Japan in their opener.
The Ayrshire ace teams up with John Henderson at the Salzburgarena from November 6-8 after both Peter Wright and Gary Anderson pulled out of the event.
Now the Scots will need to beat Alan Carr-lookalike Seigo Asada and Yuki Yamada to give themselves a chance of going all the way.
Thornton revealed: “You can’t underestimate anyone anymore. Seigo and Yuki will be tough to beat trust me.
“It’s going to be a tough battle all the way through. I think we have a good record against Japan but that means nothing when we play them next month.
“The standard of players across the world now is sensational. I’m pretty sure Seigo has done well at the World Championships, so he has experience of the big stage. Other countries fear no one, not like in the past.”
Scotland beat Japan in the quarter-finals 2-0 two years ago but have a poor record against the minnows in the competition, previously losing out to Spain, Singapore, Northern Ireland and South Africa.
Thornton hopes his form is on the up, adding: “I’m playing really well now. My averages are up and I’ve been putting in a load of practice.
“I’m looking forward to playing for Scotland again. John and I get on really well and we’ve played as a pair before in Inverness a few years back.
“I don’t mind it at all, nor does John. It can affect some players with their rhythm. But we are definitely OK with it.”
*The Philippines will not participate in the World Cup with Noel Malicdem and Lourence Ilagan initially set to face England duo Michael Smith and Rob Cross in the opening round.
However in a statement released by the National Darts Federation Philippines, they stated that PDC Asia has failed to address the travel ban for players heading to Austria.