Thailand hold Iran to Asian Cup draw (29/01/2009 )



By: TOR CHITTINAND
Published: 29/01/2009 at 12:00 AM
Newspaper section: Sports
Thailand held powerhouses Iran to a scoreless draw in an Asian Cup qualifier at Rajamangala National Stadium last night.

The Thais must rue their missed chances to seal their first-ever win over Iran as they squandered several scoring opportunities in an entertaining game.

In the other Group E game last night, Singapore beat Jordan 2-1. Agu Casmir and Noh Alam Shah scored for the home side after 21 and 63 minutes while Hatem Aquel netted from the spot for Jordan in the 41st minute.

After two round of matches, hot favourites Iran, who hammered Singapore 6-0 in the first game, lead with four points.

Singapore are second with three points, Thailand two and Jordan one. Two teams advance to the 2011 finals in Qatar.

Thailand, who drew 0-0 in Jordan in their opening game, started neverously against the Iranians who dominated for long periods in the first half.

Iran's best chance came after 11 minutes when Thailand goal-keeper Kosin Hathairattanakool was forced to save a fierce drive. The ball then hit a post and it was fortunate that Kosin reacted fast to grab it.

Thailand's closest chance came in the 39th minute when captain Datsakorn Thonglao's shot from outside the area went just wide.

The hosts were the better side in the second half and could have gone in front in the first 10 minutes after the interval.

Shortly after the re-start, striker Teerasil Dangda sent Suchao Nutnum clear but the midfielder's chip was finely saved by Iran goal-keeper Mehdi Rahmati.

In the 54th minute, Teerasil raced past three Iran defenders but his shot was again stopped by Rahmati.

Striker Teerathep Winothai, who plays in Belgium's second division, was sent on after 75 minutes.

He soon made his presence felt when he won a free-kick just outside the box. Datsakorn again came close to scoring as his free-kick went just wide.

Thailand coach Peter Reid apparently wanted all three points when he sent on striker Ronnachai Ransiyo for Datsakorn with 10 minutes to go.

Thailand got several corner kicks late in the game but failed to crack Iran's defence.

Reid said he was pleased with the result and his players' performance.

"It was a tough game and Iran are a strong side. We created several chances but failed to score," said the English coach.

"We are in a tough group and to have two points from two tough matches, I am pleased with it."

Iran got several free-kicks in scoring ranges and Reid wondered why their players often fell easily.

"I don't know if our defence had a problem or the Iranians fell too easily," he said.

Iran coach Ali Daei said he had expected a tough game and was pleased with the point.

"Both sides played very well. We had several chances in the first half and Thailand had many chances in the second half," said the former Bayern Munich star.

"We wanted three points but I'm pleased with one point against the best team in Southeast Asia."

In Group B, Indonesia held Australia to a scorelss draw in Jakarta.