Thais held by Bangladesh, face 'must win' Sunday

Thais held by Bangladesh, face 'must win' Sunday

Thais celebrate the 80th minute goal that tied the match with Bangladesh. (AFP photo)
Thais celebrate the 80th minute goal that tied the match with Bangladesh. (AFP photo)

Supachai Chaided fired home another late equaliser in a 1-1 draw with Bangladesh Thursday to help Thailand retain some hope of making it to the last-16 stage of the men's football competition of the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia.

The victory the War Elephants had been longing for failed to materialise as Worrawoot Srimaka's men looked like a pale shadow of the side that had impressively held 2022 World Cup hosts Qatar to a 1-1 draw in their first Group B game on Tuesday night.

The fight for second place in the group is now set to go down to the wire with Thailand needing a win over over Uzbekistan in their last round-robin game on Sunday, when Qatar take on Bangladesh.

Uzbekistan thrashed Qatar 6-0 last night, leaving Thailand in second place with two points. Qatar and Bangladesh have one point each.

Uzbekistan have been assured of the top spot in the group with six points after two straight wins. They beat Bangladesh 3-0 on Tuesday.

The 26-nation men's football event of the Games is a U23 competition that allows each country to field three overage players and the top two teams of each of the six groups and four best third-placed sides advance to the knockout stages.

Worrawoot admitted after the match that Thailand were left facing an uphill battle to qualify for the knockout stages, but added that he knows how to handle Uzbekistan.

"It [draw against Bangladesh] isn't the result we were hoping and it looks we have been cornered," said the Thai coach.

"A number of things went wrong today and I would like to apologise to the Thai football fans.

"We had to change our game plan. We were forced to make a few changes as some of the players were not fit.

"I admit that starting with Ekanit Panya was a mistake and I am responsible for making that decision.

"Ekanit was obviously under pressure and I don't think he has matured enough yet to play in such a high-pressure game.

"I want to tell everyone that we are not out yet. We have one more match to play and we do have a chance to make it to the next round.

"Uzbekistan are a strong team but it is going to be a tactical battle and I know how to get the better of them."

Bangladesh's English coach Jamie Day is also hoping for a place in the last 16 stage from the group.

"It was a great team effort and we are in the running again," said Day, adding: "If we can reproduce the same form in our last group game against Qatar then we can qualify for the last 16 stage."

Besides Ekanit, Worrawoot also named Phitiwat Sookjitthummakul and Saringkan Promsupa in the starting line-up, but left Buriram United striker Supachai on the bench again.

After a goalless first half that saw both sides take turns to miss the mark, the action heated up seven minutes into the second half when Bangladesh picked up a goal. A long throw from right to the box was headed on and Mahbubur Rahman succeeded in getting a leg to it, sending the ball into the net.

Supachai's left-footed sizzler from near the edge of the box was a beauty after he was set up with a clever tap by Chonburi midfielder Worachit Kanitsribumphen in the 80th minute.

In women's play Thursday, Thailand suffered a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Japan in their opening Group C match at Bumi Sriwijaya Stadium.

Mana Iwabuchi and Yuka Momiki scored in the 33rd and 85th minutes as the Nadeshiko made a flying start to their Asian Games campaign.

Thailand will now need to beat Southeast Asian rivals Vietnam in their second group game on Sunday to keep alive their hopes of progressing.

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