Thailand first time advances to the quarterfinals of U23 tournament
The 1-1 draw against U23 Iraq is enough for Thailand U23 to make history when it is first present in the quarterfinals of an Asian U23 round.
Hosts Thailand have survived an almighty scare against Iraq to claim a 1-1 draw on Tuesday to reach the quarter-finals of the 2020 AFC U23 Championship.
The Thais got off to a dream start at the Rajamangala Stadium in the 6th minute when Jaroensak Wonggorn found the bottom corner from the spot with a clinical finish beyond Ali Kadhim’s despairing dive, after they had been awarded an early penalty for a handball by Najm Shwan inside the area.
But, with star men Supachok Sarachat and Supachai Jaided on the bench, the Thais eventually allowed their opponents to gain the ascendancy in the contest and it seemed only a matter of time before they equalised.
That duly arrived four minutes into the break when Mohammed Mezher drilled a low cross in from the right to Murad Mohammed.
AFC U23 Championship Highlights – Thailand vs IraqAlthough Thailand midfielder Kanarin Thawornsak did brilliantly to deny him a shooting opportunity, the ball broke to Mohammed Nassif and he made no mistake in finishing past Korraphat Nareechan.
Mohammed Nassif celebrates his equaliser put it was ultimately futile for Iraq.As the game entered its closing stages, it looked like the Thais – having brought on Supachai and Supachok – would be able to hold out for the remainder of the contest.
Nonetheless, in the 90th minute, Iraq had one final chance to snatch the win – and a place in the quarters – when Mustafa Mohammed’s right-wing cross picked out Murad unmarked inside the area.
The Iraq winger did all that could have been asked for him with a downward header that seemed destined to find the back of the net, only for Korraphat to pull off an outstanding save from point-blank range to rescue the Thais.
With the point, Thailand – who entered this edition of the tournament without even a single win to their name – now progress as Group A runners-up along with winners Australia, who held on to the top spot with a 1-1 draw against Bahrain.
THAILAND: Korraphat Nareechan, Peerawat Akkratum, Thitawee Aksornsri, Saringkarn Promsupa, Thitathorn Aksornsri, Kanarin Thawornsak (Kritsada Kaman 84’), Wisarut Imura (Supachok Sarachat 56’), Jaroensak Wonggorn, Worachit Kanitsribampen, Suphanat Mueanta, Ben Davis (Supachai Jaided 56’).
IRAQ: Ali Kadhim, Mustafa Mohammed, Abdulabbas Ayad (Muntadher Sattar 62’), Najm Shwan, Alaa Raad, Murad Mohammed, Sadeq Zamil, Mohammed Mezher, Ali Qasim (Hussein Jabbar 46’), Mohammed Ridha (Omer Assi 85’), Mohammed Nassif.
5′ Referee heads to the VAR screen following a possible penalty incident in the first minute of the match. Thailand had earned a corner and the kick possibly hit one of the Iraqi defenders on the hand. And he points for a PENALTY FOR THAILAND!
6′ GOAL! THAILAND 1-0 IRAQ. Jaroensak Wonggorn gets his third of the competition and the War Elephants lead at the Rajamangala Stadium in Bangkok.
9′ Free header for Iraq following a free-kick but two Iraqi players go at it together and the ball ultimately lands in the hands of Korraphat Nareechan safely.
15′ Another big chance for Iraq as Mohammed Nassif’s header following a cross from Murad Subeh goes just wide. Iraq have been dominant after Thailand’s opening goal.
23′ Should’ve been 2-0 there but Ali Kadhim Hadi makes himself big and makes a great save from close range.
27′ Another great save from Ali Kadhim Hadi after a well-placed shot from Suphanat Mueanta!
36′ Great piece of skill from Suphanat as he leaves the defender clueless but the end product is disappointing. The shot lacked power and the Iraqi goalkeeper makes an easy save!
41′ And yet another opportunity for Suphanat but straight at the goalkeeper, AGAIN! He justs boots it hard but not clinical enough.
HALF-TIME! THAILAND 1-0 IRAQ
46′ Second half is underway now!
49′ GOAL! IRAQ EQUALISE! Iraq have been on the front foot since the start of the half and they make the dominance count as Mohammed Nassif drills the ball into the goal following a cross. THA 1-1 IRQ
56′ Double substitution for Thailand as Supachai Chaided replaces Benjamin Davis and Supachok Sarachart comes on for Wisarut Imura.
63′ Supachok Sarachart runs into the Iraq box with the ball, beating multiple defenders on his way. But his shot is not strong enough and the score remains 1-1!
66′ A long-range drive from Thitathorn Auksornsri is parried away for a corner by the Iraqi goalkeeper, who seems to be in pain after making the save. The ball apparently took a surprise bounce and hit him in the face.
74′ Free-kick for Iraq, who are pushing on for the winner but Mohammed Ridha’s kick is straight at Korraphat Nareechan.
82′ Both the teams are now trying hard for the winner. It’s Hussein Jabbar’s turn now to try a long-range strike but it’s straight to the goalkeeper AGAIN!
Hosts Thailand will take on Iraq in their final outing in the group stages of the 2020 AFC U23 Championship at the Rajamangala National Stadium in Bangkok on Tuesday.
Thailand had defeated Bahrain 5-0 in their opener before losing 2-1 to Australia in their second outing. They could progress comfortably if they can avoid a defeat against Iraq and Bahrain not defeat Australia by a huge margin.
Thailand, Bahrain, Australia and Iraq make up Group A of the tournament while 2018 AFC U23 Championship finalists Vietnam are in Group D with DPR Korea, Jordan and UAE.
Group B of the continental competition consists of Qatar, Japan, Saudi Arabia and Syria while Group C features defending champions Uzbekistan, Korea Republic, China PR and IR Iran.
Top two teams from each group will progress to the knockout stages of the fourth edition of the continental tournament.The semifinals will be played on January 22 while the final will take place at the Rajamangala National Stadium in Bangkok on January 26.
"After overseeing our preparations for the tournament, I think the players have done better than I expected," said the Japanese tactician.
"As of now, we only have three points but I believe that the players are doing their absolute best form.
"Perhaps more than that, the players are challenging themselves. They are identifying their own weaknesses and improving them."
Nishino added that he wanted his players to go for a win over Iraq.
"We have had a chat and I have told the players to aim for a win rather than planning for a draw.
"The next game will decide whether we go through or not, but we will in all likelihood focus on improving once again."
Prediction: U23 Thailand 2-2 U23 Iraq