Nov 12, 2011|
Thailand’s attempts to reach the next stage of World Cup qualifying suffered a major blow last night as they went down 3-0 away to Saudi Arabia. It was always going to be a challenge and in the end Frank Rijkaard's Saudi’s greater experience and fitness was decisive as they scored all three of their goals in the second half.
It was tough on Thailand after a spirited first half defensive performance, but the Saudis finally made their undoubted dominance pay after the break. Striker Naif Hazazi finally broke the deadlock with a well-directed header on the 58th minute, though Thai keeper, Chonburi’s Sinthaweechai Hathairattanakool might feel he should have kept it out at his near post.
It came as a huge relief for the home fans who had seen their team miss a host of first half chances. An excellent solo goal by Ahmed Al Fraidi on 78 minute made the game safe as the midfielder was allowed to waltz into the box before slamming the ball high into the net. A penalty by captain Mohammed Noor, after he was hauled down in the box nine minutes from time put the tie beyond doubt. There was however still time for Thailand to suffer another setback when Buriram defender Theerathon Bunmathan was sent off two minutes before the end.
The result means Saudi leapfrog Thailand and move into second in Group D with five points while Thailand have four points where they sit level with Oman. Winnie Schaefer has to now try and get his team ready to face Australia in Bangkok on Tuesday night. What was always going to be a very tricky task, seems even tougher now as they’ll be facing an Aussie side smarting from a shock 1-0 defeat away to Oman in Muscat last night. Realistically Thailand need at least one point from Tuesday’s game which kicks off at 6pm at Suphachalasai Stadium to have any chance of progressing to the next qualifying round with just two games left to play.