Perfect Thais seal Asian U23 Cup berth

Perfect Thais seal Asian U23 Cup berth

Thailand players celebrate scoring against Malaysia.
Thailand players celebrate scoring against Malaysia.

A first-half strike from Yotsakon Burapha on Tuesday night was enough to earn Thailand a 1-0 win over Malaysia and help them claim the top spot in Group H of the 2024 AFC U23 Asian Cup qualifiers at Chonburi Stadium.

Thailand had a perfect run with three victories in as many games without conceding any goal, while Malaysia will now hope they can advance to the finals in Qatar as one of the best four second-placed teams.

It was a tightly contested affair with both teams having equal chances but it was Thailand who broke the deadlock in style, catching Malaysia by surprise in the 20th minute.

Purachet Thodsanid burst down the right before supplying a cross for Yotsakon, who evaded his marker inside a packed box before neatly placing his headed attempt beyond the outstretched arms of Malaysia goalkeeper Sikh Izhan Nazrel.

That goal secured a place for the Thais in the 2024 AFC U23 Asian Cup in Qatar from April 15-May 3. The top three finishers at the finals will automatically qualify for the Olympic Games while the fourth-placed team will have a play-off with a team from African continent.

Thailand U23 coach Issara Sritaro said: "We have achieved our target of claiming nine points and keeping a clean sheet in the event is a big bonus.

"The Malaysians were very determined and pressured us throughout the match but our players had the patience and got the goal."

The Philippines took the third spot in the group with three points while Bangladesh finished at the bottom after losing all their three matches.

Suphanat joins OH Leuven

Belgium Pro League club OH Leuven have signed a one-year loan contract with 21-year-old Thai star Suphanat Mueanta.

The Thailand striker started playing for Buriram at the age of 15 and is the youngest player to score in Thai League 1 and the AFC Champions League.

He has played for the Thai U16, U19 and U23 teams and also the senior national team, scoring four goals in 12 matches for the War Elephants.

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