THAILAND DENIES IRAN FOR A PLACE IN THE SEMI-FINALS (February 02, 2008)



KUALA LUMPUR (1st Feb 2008) Thailand beat Iran for the first time in their history to make the semi-finals of the KL World 5s where they will face Argentina tomorrow at the Stadium Negara in Kuala Lumpur.

The win for Thailand completes the semi-finals fixtures of the KL World 5s with Brazil taking on Australia in the other match-ups while for Iran; they have to play in the lower plate semi-finals.

“It was a fantastic game but I must say that we were a little worried when Keattiyot (Chalaemkhet) was sent-off,” said Thailand head coach Pattaya Piemkum after the match.

“But having said that, we have to realised that he has worked very hard in the earlier matches and that it is too bad that we will not have him tomorrow (when we play Argentina). Now, we only have nine players left and it will be a difficult match ahead.”

Following from their win over China in the morning, the Iranians started the game confidently this evening and pressed Thailand hard from the very first whistle.

And who better to slot home the first goal for Iran than the mercurial Vahid Shamsaee in the13th minute before Thailand found the equaliser five minutes later off striker Anucha Munjarern.

All square at the break, Thailand slammed home the lead a minute after the restart off Ekapong Suratsawang to inject a sense of anxiety in the Iranian camp for the first time in the game.

In the 36th minute, Keattiyot was ejected from the match after picking up his second yellow card and the ensuing free kick allowed Mohammad Hashemzadeh to tap in the equaliser.

But with seconds remaining on the clock, captain Panuwat Janta converted a penalty to give Thailand their first ever win over the Asian champions and forced Iran to look at the lower plate semi-finals for salvation tomorrow.

“I was disappointed with the outcome of the match tonight,” quipped Hossein Shams, the head coach of Iran.

In the plate semi-finals, Iran will play Indonesia while hosts Malaysia will take on Holland.

FIXTURES and RESULTS (1st Feb, 2008)

10am: Iran vs China (6-1)
3pm: Malaysia vs England (6-2)
5pm: Australia vs Argentina (3-3)
7pm: Brazil vs Holland (2-0)
9pm: Thailand vs Iran (3-2)