Thailand battle to victory in King's Cup (18 January 2010)

NAKHON RATCHASIMA : Thailand got off to a winning start in the 40th King's Cup football tournament yesterday with a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Singapore.

The vital goal came from Sutee Suksomkit in the 59th minute when he fired home a swerving free-kick from the edge of the area.

Four minutes earlier Thailand had been reduced to 10 men when striker Teerathep Winothai was sent off for a second yellow card offence.

In the earlier match defending champions Denmark defeated Poland 3-1.

Cheered on by a capacity 20,000 crowd at His Majesty the King's 80th Birthday Anniversary stadium, Thailand quickly got into their stride and a good effort by Sutee was well saved by goalkeeper Hassan Sunny.

Singapore also created chances but their efforts were thwarted by Thai keeper Kawin Thamsatchanan.

Thailand should have gone ahead in the 21st minute when a shot from Teerathep was only partially cleared but Datsakorn Thonglao blasted the rebound over the top.

The flow of the game was interrupted too many times by petty fouls which kept Kenyan referee Celeb Sikobe and his assistants busy.

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

Five minutes after the restart Sutee almost scored but his shot just went over the bar.

When Teerathep got his marching orders things did not look good for Thailand. But the 10-men struck shortly after when Kirati Kaowsom was fouled on the edge of the area and Sutee fired home the free-kick.

Therdsak Chaiman came off the bench to replace Datsakorn and the veteran Thai star went on to cause all sorts of problems for the Singapore defence.

With 15 minutes to go Thailand should have made the game safe after being awarded a rather soft penalty when Kirati went down in the area, but Sutee's spot kick was well saved by Sunny who then made an excellent follow-up save from Therdsak.

As the final whistle neared Thailand got themselves in trouble when Singapore were awarded a free-kick inside the area after the keeper had held on to the ball more than six seconds. The ensuing free-kick was cleared off the line by Nataporn Phanrit and Thailand went on to hold out for an important 1-0 victory.

Thailand coach, Bryan Robson said he was pleased with his team's effort especially after being reduced to 10 men.

"Our defence played well and showed good discipline," he said.

He said the first yellow card for Teerathep was harsh but he wouldn't argue with the second. "He should have been more careful," Robson said.

Singapore coach Radojko Avramovic said Thailand played very well. "Most of our players are inexperienced so they performed well in the circumstances," he said.

Denmark put on a strong performance in the opening game with goals from Soren Risks, Morten Rasmussen and Jesper Bech. Peszko Slawomir replied for Poland.

On Wednesday Thailand will play Poland while Singapore will take on Denmark.

Among the spectators at yesterday's matches was ex-French international Christian Karembeu.

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

Denmark ! 1 ! 1 ! 0 ! 0 !3 ! 1 ! 3!

Thailand ! 1 ! 1 ! 0 ! 0 ! 1 ! 0 ! 3!

Singapore ! 1 ! 0 ! 0 ! 1 !0 ! 1 ! 0!

Poland ! 1 ! 0 ! 0 ! 1 ! 1 ! 3 ! 0!

Picture: siamsport