Morale-boosting win for Thailand (May 17, 2007)



TOR CHITTINAND

Thailand's national football squad received a great confidence boost for their Asian Cup campaign when they defeated China 1-0 in a warm-up at Rajamangala National Stadium yesterday. It was the first time Thailand had beaten China since the Asian Games in Beijing 17 years ago and was a well-deserved victory.


Thailand put on a very encouraging display with veteran stars Therdsak Chaiman, playing as captain, and Tawan Sripan making a significant contribution to the team's improved performance.


Striker Pipat Tonkanya had the honour of scoring the only goal of the match just before half-time.


Coach Chanvit Phalajivin said he was delighted with his team's performance.


''We played much better than I had expected,'' he said.


''It was our first game since January. Also we didn't have our strongest squad out so it was a good effort.''


Thailand looked the livelier side from the start with Sutee Suksomkit testing the goalkeeper Li Lei Lei in the opening minute.


China responded well and in the seventh minute Thailand goalkeeper Kosin Hathairattanakool had to save a strong header from Sheffield United's Li Tie.


As the half wore on Thailand continued to press with Tawan, Suthee and Therdsak all testing the Chinese goalkeeper with some good efforts.


The crucial breakthrough came in the 40th minute when Tawan hit a fierce shot from outside the area which the China goalkeeper could only push out and BEC Tero striker Pipat pounced to slot the ball home.


The goal brought a roar from the small but enthusiastic crowd.


Thailand suffered a blow early in the second half when Therdsak was carried off with what looked like an ankle injury.


China began to press for an equaliser but the Thai defence, which played well all night, held firm.


Thailand still looked more likely to score and Suchao Nutnum and Jakkrit Bunkham both tested the keeper before the final whistle which brought a memorable victory for Thailand.


Coach Chanvit praised the performances of Therdsak and Tawan.


''They really helped the team a lot with their experience,'' he said. ''It was particularly encouraging as we did not have Nirut Surasiang or Datsakorn Thonglao playing.''


He said the lack of height amongst his players did not seem to matter.


''Our defence dealt with the long ball quite comfortably and I think that surprised China.''


President of the Football Association of Thailand (FAT), Worawi Makudi said it was a good performance in the circumstances. ''The team only got together for three days so it was an excellent effort,'' he said.


Thailand's next warm-up match is a big one against the against the stars from the Netherlands on June 6 at the same venue.


In the Asian Cup Thailand will face Australia, Iraq and Oman in Group A.