Thailand draw 1-1 with China in World Cup qualifier
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Thailand draw 1-1 with China in World Cup qualifier

War Elephants still mathematically alive in Group C but need big win over Singapore on Tuesday

Zhen’ao Wang of China pursues Thailand’s Supachok Sarachat during their 2026 Fifa World Cup qualifying match on Thursday night at the Shenyang Olympic Sports Center Stadium. (Photo: Reuters)
Zhen’ao Wang of China pursues Thailand’s Supachok Sarachat during their 2026 Fifa World Cup qualifying match on Thursday night at the Shenyang Olympic Sports Center Stadium. (Photo: Reuters)

Thailand battled to a 1-1 draw with China in their 2026 Fifa World Cup qualifying match on Thursday, meaning the War Elephants will need a win, and some luck, in their final match on Tuesday if they hope to move on.

China remain in the driving seat going into the final round of fixtures, with a three-point advantage and Thailand needing to overcome an inferior goal difference of -2, versus +1 for the Chinese.

However, China will have the more testing tie with a visit to group winners South Korea, while Thailand host bottom side Singapore, ranked 155th in the world, at Rajamangala National Stadium in Bangkok.

China are now in second place in Group C with 8 points, while Thailand are third with 5. South Korea lead the group with 13 points. The top two teams in each of the nine groups will advance to the next stage of Asian qualifying.

To remain mathematically alive, the War Elephants will need a convincing win on Tuesday, and China will have to lose to South Korea by an even larger margin.

It was a physical start to proceedings at Shenyang Olympic Centre with both teams picking up early bookings for right-backs Wang Zhen’ao and Suphanan Bureerat early on.

But it was the visitors who wrested control of the game after the opening 10 minutes with Supachai Chaided seeing an effort blocked before Wang Dalei denied his shot from range.

The forward had more success as provider than a scorer on 20 minutes, though, as he got to the left byline and crossing into the area where he found the head of Supachok Sarachat who converted from point-blank range to put Thailand in front.

Thailand finished the half the stronger, and Sarach Yooyen rattled the top of the crossbar with a thunderous strike from 30 yards out, before Suphanat Mueanta also hit the woodwork in first-half stoppage time.

China had a golden chance to draw level just four minutes after the restart when Kritsada Kaman was penalised for a handball in the area, but Fei Nanduo was unable to convert the resulting spot-kick.

China finally found their equaliser with 11 minutes remaining. Thailand had been forced to change their goalkeeper due to an injury to Patiwat and the first action Saranon Anuin was faced with was picking the ball out of his net.

A free-kick into the area was prodded further into the danger zone by Zhu Chenjie’s header where substitute Behran Abduweli was lurking to power home a volley from close range.

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