Ishii sorry for stalemate
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Ishii sorry for stalemate

Thailand's World Cup hopes hang by thread

Thailand's Supachok Sarachat celebrates after scoring against China during their World Cup qualifier in Shenyang. (Photo supplied)
Thailand's Supachok Sarachat celebrates after scoring against China during their World Cup qualifier in Shenyang. (Photo supplied)

Thailand coach Masatada Ishii apologised to fans after his team failed to pick up a win in their crucial World Cup qualifier against China on Thursday night.

The 1-1 draw in Shenyang left Thailand in third place in Group C on five points, three behind China. South Korea, who confirmed their place in the next round of Asia's qualifiers with a 7-0 thrashing of hosts Singapore, remained on top with 13 points while Singapore are at the bottom of the group with one point.

The top two teams in the group will advance to the final qualifying round for the 2026 World Cup.

Thailand will now have to beat Singapore by a sizeable margin in their final group game on Tuesday at Bangkok's Rajamangala National Stadium and hope China lose in South Korea to stand a chance of progressing.

"Today's result did not meet our expectations. We wanted three points and I couldn't help the team meet our target so I have to apologise to Thai football fans," said Ishii during a post-match press conference.

"The next game we will get back to play at home in Bangkok. So I hope the fans at the stadium and at home will cheer the team on and help us get the three points we need," added the Japanese tactician.

Thailand struck through Supachok Sarachat in the 20th minute with Behram Abduweli equalising on 79 minutes in front of a sell-out 47,000 crowd in Shenyang.

Supachai Chaided crossed the ball from the left where he found the head of Supachok, who converted from point-blank range to put Thailand in front. Thailand should have got the second goal when 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 missed a golden chance to pull level just four minutes after the break when Thailand defender Kritsada Kaman was penalised for a handball in the area but Fei Nanduo (Fernandinho) blazed his resulting penalty over the bar.

However, China did find their equaliser with 11 minutes remaining when Thailand were forced to change their goalkeeper due to an injury to Patiwat Khammai and Saranon Anuin's first action was picking the ball out of his net.

The Chinese got the free-kick into the area and Zhu Chenjie's cushion header set up substitute Abduweli, who powered home a volley from close range on his debut.

"I think everyone saw the match and there's no need to talk about it. We will now focus on the next game and of course we still have a chance," said Thailand captain Theerathon Bunmathan.

"I believe in my team, believe in the coaching staff. We must believe in ourselves and I also believe that we can get three points at our home ground and qualify for the next round."

The Thailand v Singapore match will kick off at 7.30pm and will be televised live on Thai Rath TV (32). The South Korea v China game will start at 6pm.

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