Ishii upbeat despite big loss

Ishii upbeat despite big loss

South Koreans hit 3 past War Elephants

Thailand's Supachok Sarachat tries to dribble past South Korea's Kim Min-Jae on Tuesday night at Rajamangala National Stadium. (Photo: Nutthawat Wichieanbut)
Thailand's Supachok Sarachat tries to dribble past South Korea's Kim Min-Jae on Tuesday night at Rajamangala National Stadium. (Photo: Nutthawat Wichieanbut)

Thailand lost to South Korea 3-0 in their fourth Group C game of the Asian zone qualifiers for the 2026 Fifa World Cup at home on Tuesday night, but their coach Masatada Ishii is not giving up hope of progressing to the next stage of the event.

South Korea, who were held to a surprise 1-1 draw in Seoul last Thursday, saw Lee Jae-Sung (19), Son Heung-Min (54) and Park Jin-Seop (82) get on the scoresheet at Bangkok's Rajamangala National Stadium to retain the top spot in the group.

In another Group C game, hosts China trounced Singapore 4-1 to take over the second place in the table with seven points.

The loss pushed the War Elephants down to third spot in the group with four points, but Ishii said he is optimistic that his men will make it to the third and final stage of the Asian qualifying tournament.

The top two team from each of the nine groups will reach the final stage of the World Cup qualifiers.

"We still have two more matches to play and I have high hopes of qualifying for the next stage," the Japanese coach said in post-match press conference on Tuesday night.

"In the previous game, we drew 1-1 with the Korean side in Seoul, but they are a good quality team.

"Our players made an extra effort to achieve that result in Seoul, so there was a clear difference in the physical condition of the players of the two teams tonight.

"We focused on defence again and tried to control the ball as much as possible when we had the chance to attack, but unfortunately this time we were not able to follow the tactics.

"So far, we were mainly focused on the two matches with South Korea, but now we have the time to prepare the team for the games with China and Singapore. We will have to analyse the two opponents again because both of them have changed their coaches.

"After this we will continue to follow the form of players in the Thai leagues. There may be some new faces that have good potential in the team. We still have a chance but it will depends on the result of the next two matches."

South Korea's interim coach Hwang Sun-Hong said after the match: "Thailand deserve respect. But as we were preparing for this match, we tried to find our own balance and rhythm, rather than worry about our opponents.

"I think we came away with such a good result because we executed our plans. And I think the national team will get better from here."

In Tianjin, China got their qualifying hopes back on track with a 4-1 win against Singapore.

China's new captain Wu Lei's double, Fei Nanduo's second-half penalty and a late goal from Wei Shihao were enough to earn three points.

Wu took over the armband from Zhang Linpeng who was left out of the starting line-up by coach Branko Ivankovic.

Zhang had quit the national side after China threw away a two-goal lead in the 2-2 draw in Singapore last week, only to make an abrupt U-turn.

Meanwhile, the Thai U23 team finished seventh in the 2024 WAFF U23 Championship in Saudi Arabia after a 1-0 victory over the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday night.

Thailand U23 team got the winning goal from Chitsanupong Choti in the 28th minute.

Earlier, the Thais had lost their first two games to South Korea and Jordan. Bangkok Post/AFP

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