Thais hold Saudis to scoreless draw (11/10/2011)

Thailand put up a good fight to hold Saudi Arabia to a scoreless draw in a World Cup qualifier at Rajamangala National Stadium last night.

With the stalemate, the Thais remain second in Group D of Asia's qualifying round for the 2014 World Cup with four points from three matches.

Australia stay perfect with a maximum nine points after a comfortable 3-0 home win against Oman in yesterday's other Group D match. Saudi Arabia are third with two points and Oman have one.

The top two teams from each of the five groups advance to Asia's final qualifying stage.

In an entertaining match in Bangkok before some 30,000 fans, the Saudis dominated for long periods but could find no way past a defence marshalled by Niweat Siriwong and Chonlatit Jantakam.

Thailand goalkeeper Sinthaweechai Hathairattanakool made several fine saves in probably his best match for his country.

The visitors, who drew at Oman and suffered a 3-1 home defeat against Australia in their first two games, attacked from the start in an attempt to put their campaign back on track.

They could have taken the lead after 33 minutes when Abdulaziz Al Dawsari beat Sinthaweechai only for Neweat to clear the ball off the line.

Thailand also had their own chances but striker Teerasil Dangda failed to find the back of the net.

Midfielder Datsakorn Thonglao saw his shot saved by Saudi Arabia goalkeeper Waleed Abdullah late in the first half.

The Middle East side kept piling on the pressure in the second half with striker Yasser Al Qahtani coming close to breaking the deadlock.

Datsakorn almost became Thailand's hero in the 73rd minute when his free-kick flew just over the bar.

"It was an exciting game. Both teams played well in attack and defence," said Thailand coach Winfried Schaefer.

"The Saudis had more scoring chances than us but Sinthaweechai played very well today.

"I'd like to praise my players and the fans. I am pleased with my players's performance. But we must try harder to lift our standard."

Saudi Arabia coach Frank Rijkaard said: "It was an exciting game and we had several chances but failed to score. We should have won if we had some luck."

The Saudis will next host Thailand next month and the former Netherlands coach was upbeat about his team's chance.

"It will be different when we play at home. We still have a chance to reach the next round because we still have the home game against Thailand," said the former AC Milan and Holland star.

During half-time, the Football Association of Thailand donated 2.18 million to Interior Minister Yongyuth Wichaidit to help the goverment's flood relief efforts.

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