Late strike ends Thailand qualifying hopes (April 19, 2007)



A late goal saw Iraq defeat Thailand 1-0 and put an end to the host's chances of advancing in the Group E pre-Olympic qualifying round at the Army stadium yesterday. Thailand's Under 23 squad needed a victory to maintain any hope of progressing to the next round, but they fell well short.

Even a draw would not have been enough, but Iraq clinched all three points when Mohamed J. Kerrar pounced in the 90th minute to see his side into the next round.

It was a closely fought game and Thailand paid the price for not taking their chances.

With star striker Teerathep ''Leesaw'' Winothai out because of suspension, it was always going to be difficult for Thailand, led by their new strikers Teerasil Dangda and Ronnachai Rangsiyo.

Thailand attacked from the start and both Ronnachai and Anuwat Inyin had early chances but blazed their shots over the bar.

Iraq also had their moments and Thai goalkeeper Chalermkiat Sombatpan had to make a good save from a header by Ali Abbas Mshehid.

The teams went in at the interval with the score 0-0.

The second half saw the Thai team attacking and again Teerasil and Ronnachai both missed good chances.

The Thai cause was not helped when Kriangkrai Pimrat was given his marching orders in the 76th minute after picking up a second yellow card.

Despite being down to 10 men Thailand kept attacking but could not break through.

Then in the 90th minute Dira M Habeib sent a long ball through to Kerrar J Muhamed who hit the ball past the Thai keeper to win the match.

Thailand coach Prapol Pongpanich said he was very disappointed with the result.

''We had our chances but could not put them away. We are very sorry we didn't make it.''

Football Association of Thailand (FAT) president Worawi Makudi said: ''We played quite well today but the Iraqi team was better. The red card was the turning point.''

Thailand will next play North Korea in Pyongyang but have no chance of qualifying.