Thailand hold Iraq 1-1 to keep hopes alive (March 30, 2007)

A goal from Teerathep ''Leesaw'' Winothai helped Thailand's U23 team earn a creditable 1-1 draw with Iraq in Jordan on Wednesday night, keeping alive their hopes of advancing to the next Olympic qualifying round.

The match took place at the King Abdullah Hussain Stadium in Amman.

Iraq started the livelier of the two sides and the pressure paid off in the 22nd minute when Sameer Saeed put Iraq ahead after a corner.

Teerathep nearly put Thailand level just before half-time but his shot was well saved by the keeper.

Thailand came out after the break looking more determined and were immediately rewarded when Teerathep scored a well-taken goal.

The Thai team's efforts looked to have been wasted when Iraq were awarded a penalty for a foul on Aree Hussain.

Hussain stepped up to take the spot kick himself but it was saved by keeper Chalermkiat Sombatpan.

In the dying minutes Iraq fought for the winner but the Thai defence held on for a well-earned draw.

Team manager, Kasem Jariyawatwong was very pleased with his team's performance. ''It was great to get a point in Iraq. It has given us a chance of qualifying.''

Kasem said it was unfortunate Teerathep would not be able to play in the return match in Bangkok on April 16th as he is suspended.

''But if we prepare the team well, then I am confident we can beat them,'' he said.

Coach Prapol Pongpanich, was also very happy.

''Iraq are a strong team and to get a draw against them away is a good performance.''

In the other match of the same group, India suffered a 2-0 defeat to visiting North Korea in Chennai and remained firmly rooted to the bottom of the table.

P W D L F A Pts

North Korea 3 2 1 0 5 2 7
Iraq 3 1 2 0 6 3 5
Thailand 3 1 1 1 2 2 4
India 3 0 0 3 0 6 0