Thailand's hopes evaporate (June 03, 2008)

World Cup bid now needs a miracle


Thailand's World Cup dreams are realistically over after they were beaten 3-2 by Bahrain at Rajamangala National Stadium last night. It was Thailand's third defeat in as many matches in Asia's first group stage of World Cup qualification. They had already lost to Japan and Oman.

In theory, Thailand can still advance. But they need three wins in their last three games and hope other results go their way.

They play in Bahrain on Saturday.

Last night Thailand put on a good display to come from behind to equalise twice in the first half but Sayed Hussein's winner 11 minutes after the break dashed the Thais' hopes.

Isa Salman opened the scoring for Bahrain on 21 minutes only for striker Surayuth Chaikamdee to equalise four minutes later. Hasan Ismaeel regained the lead for the visitors in the 35th minute but forward Teerathep Winothai gave Thailand a ray of hope on the stroke of half-time.

In a lively encounter, a blunder by Thailand's makeshift defence gifted Bahrain the lead when Mohamed Salmeen broke free on the right and crossed to the unmarked Salman, who slotted home from three metres past stand-in goalkeeper Sivaluk Terdsungnoen after 21 minutes.

Surayuth headed into the net from close range after a Tawan Sripan corner in the 25th minute to put the match back on level terms.

The Gulf side regained control in the 35th minute when Fouzi Aaish's low shot was saved by the goalkeeper only for Ismaeel to prod home.

The Thais levelled in first half stoppage time when pacey Teerathep latched on to a long pass from Pichitpong Cheuichiew and blasted the ball beyond Bahrain goalkeeper Sayed Jaffer.

The visitors regained the lead for good in the 56th minute when Hussein's speculative shot trickled through the Thai defence into the left hand corner.

Thailand coach Chanvit Phalajivin praised his men's efforts but rued their defensive errors and lack of sharpness up front.

''We conceded three goals easily. We had several chances to score more goals but lacked sharpness,'' he said.

''We played under pressure and it was hard to win in such a situation when we needed to win.''

Although Thailand are virtually out of contention, Chanvit said his team still had three matches left and would do their best for pride.

Bahrain coach Milan Macala said his team made a lot of mistakes but the most important thing was getting three points.

''It is great to win the match, it does not matter how we won,'' he said.

Bahrain tighten their grip on top of Group Two with a maximum nine points. Japan, who beat Oman 3-0 in Yokohama yesterday, have six points and Oman three. Two teams progress to the next qualifying round.

Captain Yuji Nakazawa, Yoshito Okubo and Shunsuke Nakamura were on target in rainy Yokohama, relieving the pressure on Japan coach Takeshi Okada following a 1-0 defeat by Bahrain in March.

!P ! W ! D ! L ! F ! A ! Pts!

Bahrain !3 ! 3 ! 0 ! 0 ! 3 ! 2 ! 9!
Japan !3 ! 2 ! 0 ! 1 ! 4 ! 2 ! 6!
Oman !3 ! 1 ! 0 ! 2 ! 1 ! 4 ! 3!
Thailand ! 3 ! 0 ! 0 ! 3 ! 3 ! 8 ! 0!