Published on August 8, 2007
THAILANDíS Naruemon Banmoo attempts to shoot the basket in the womenís basketball match against South Korea yesterday.
The men's football and the women's basketball squads made the Kingdom proud by winning their opening matches in the World University Games yesterday.
The soccer team, who trailed Canada 1-0 in the first half, turned the situation around by pumping in four goals after the intermission to take their Pool A preliminary round game with a 4-1 victory at the Supachalasai National Stadium.
But it was the female basketball side that deserved the kudos with a historic 74-62 win over South Korea in Pool A at Thammasat University. It's the country's first victory over the gigantic rival in 30 years.
"This is the first time a Thai team has ever beaten South Korea since our men beat them in the Asian Games around 30 years ago," said Wichan Chareontham, the national team's coach.
"Our girls played according to the plan. They were nervous at the beginning of the game, but they calmed down and took control of the proceedings," Wichan added.
The Thai women, who finished 14th at the World University Games Basketball in South Korea in 2004, next take on Canada tomorrow.
A buoyant Wichan feels that his side has a chance to win.
"Western players take advantage of their height. We will play fast attack and try to score from the arc. The win was a real boost for our team and we think we can get past Canada," he said.
However, there was no surprise when the Thai men lost to Canada 96-43.
Around 500 fans, who witnessed the Thai-Canadian football match, were a bundle of sorrow as the home team performed nowhere near expectations. Time and again opportunities came knoc-
king at their door, but finishing seemed an incurable problem.
While the local players kept wasting their chances, Mark Korthuis punished a rebound from Thai goalkeeper Umarin Yaodam to put Canada up front in the 33rd minute.
Thailand's fortunes seemed to change after Anon Sangsanoi netted a penalty in the 59th minute for the equaliser. Six minutes later, the North Bangkok College student buried a header into the net to ignite the charge.
Despite the absence of sun, Canada, whose best finish in the Games was a 15th place, were wilted by the humid conditions. The hosts seized the opportunity to intensify the attack.
Wuttichai Tatong came off the bench to perform a solo into the Canadian defence and fired a kick in the 73rd minute that bumped Thailand up to a 3-1 lead. The party ended with the last minute goal by Ekaphan Inthasen, who collapsed onto the ground due to a collision with a Canadian defender earlier.
"We should have settled down in the first 10 minutes as Canada is not that good basically. I'm not happy with the overall game as
the boys need to take more
possession of the ball,"said Thai coach Samrerng Chaiyong.
But for Anon, the comeback win has convinced him that a place in the knock-out stage was not out of reach.
"I couldn't ask for more by scoring two goals for the team. If we can maintain this level, we can make it to the quarter-finals."
Thailand will play their second match against Ireland tomorrow. Thailand drew a 3-3 tie with the rivals two years ago in Izmir but blanked
them 4-0 in Daegu in the 2003 meet.
Canadian Pat Raimondo said: "We didn't get enough of the ball. We expected to have a better first game but Thailand is well coached."
However, the women's soccer team lost haplessly to Germany 4-0 at the Ranamongkol University of Technology.
Only the basketball competition takes place in the morning today to allow athletes
to participate in the Opening Ceremony which takes at
6pm at the Rajamangala Stadium. Heavy traffic snarls are expected at Ramkham-haeng area.