Thailand outclass Palestine (November 29, 2006)
Doha _ Thailand beat Palestine 1-0 in their first group game at the Asian Games at Al Rayyan Stadium in Doha yesterday, but the scoreline fails to reflect the kingdom's dominance in a one-sided match. Suchao Nutnum scored what turned out to be the winner in the 11th minute but Thailand were in complete control throughout.
Thailand, who finished fourth at the 1998 Games in Bangkok and the 2002 edition in Busan lined-up with Sutee Suksomkij, Datsakorn Thonglao and Teerathep ''Leesaw'' Winothai.
Striker Ekaphan Intasen was replaced by Anon Sangsanoi due to an injury during a warm-up with Uzbekistan on Saturday.
The kingdom started brightly and a long range header soon forced Palestine goalkeeper Mohammad Shbair to fingertip the ball over his own crossbar.
The side kept the pressure up and a speculative pass sent Teerathep down the right before he was intercepted.
Palestine struggled to cope with Thailand's pressure and were often forced on the back foot.
Thailand finally made the breakthrough their hard work deserved when a quality looping ball from Sutee on the left wing found unmarked Suchao in the area.
Suchao took a touch to bring the ball down and then fired a right-footed low shot through the goalkeeper's legs.
A decent-sized contingent of Thai fans in the stand celebrated wildly at the well-taken goal.
Suchao had a chance to add another soon after, but this time the Palestine keeper managed to steer his effort around the post.
Thailand's goalkeeper Kosin Hathairatanakul was tested in the 22nd minute with a 20-yard free-kick, but dealt with it well.
There were worrying scenes when Teerathep went down heavily after a collision with the Palestine goalkeeper.
The Thai striker lay prone for some time before eventually being helped to his feet, apparently unscathed.
He soon proved he was fine when he went on a blistering run down the right, shaking off two challenges as he zeroed down on the target.
Teerathep smashed a low drive as Shbair tried to cover, but his effort just fizzed the wrong side of the upright.
Thailand kept possession well and, by the half hour mark, Palestine had been limited to a handful of chances from dead ball situations.
It wasn't long before Thailand were back attacking in the final third again and a composed move, that saw the side spray the ball from left to right, ended with Sutee just outside the area.
He beat the right back with a superb dummy then cut inside to rifle a shot on target, which Shbair did well to stop.
Abdullah Hassan was shown yellow in the 38th minute for a cynical foul on Nattapong Samana.
Suchao tested the Palestine keeper again just before half-time with a fierce long-range shot.
Thailand started the second half at the same pace and captain Datsakorn Thonglao went close twice within the space of a minute.
It was all one-way traffic as Thailand worked the ball around the pitch to frustrate their opponents.
Sutee drilled a free-kick inches over the crossbar on the hour mark and continued to make a big impression as the action wore on.
In the 77th minute, Thana Chanabut replaced Anon.
Thailand failed to break through again before the end but had dominated their opening game and can take great heart from their performance.
They next play Kyrgystan on Saturday.
Group A _ United Arab Emirates 1 (Yaser Al Junaibi 70) Uzbekistan 2 (Alexander Geynrikh 44, 55)
Group B _ South Korea 3 (Lee Chun Soo 2, Park Chu Young 59, 74) Bangladesh 0
Group C _ Thailand 1 (Suchao Nutnum 11) Palestine 0