Published on November 19, 2007
National coach Chanvit Pholchivin eulogised the three players, including right back Suree Sukha, who recently signed contracts with English Premier League outfit Manchester City after they helped Thailand to the World Cup third qualifying round, following a 1-0 success over 10-man Yemen at the Supachalasai Stadium yesterday.
The narrow margin of victory was not an honest reflection of the game as a combination of bad luck and some outstanding goalkeeping denied the hosts a more convincing win.
The result was enough for Chanvit's side to secure their passage into the group stage with a 2-1 aggregate victory, following a 1-1 draw in the first leg in Yemen.
Apart from the outcome, the other encouraging sign for the Thai team was the performance of the three Manchester City-bound players, Suree, teenage striker Teerasil Daengda and Kiatprawut Saiwaeo.
Centre-back Kiatprawut, in particular, did not put a wrong foot in a rare start for the senior team.
Chanvit admitted that he would have been happier had his side scored more than a single goal. "However, the defence marshalled by Kiatprawut succeeded in neutralising the visitors' aerial threat," he said.
"Although we claimed a draw in the first game, our situation remained precarious. That put us under pressure going into this match.
"We should have scored two or three more… However, I'm still content with the result," Chanvit said.
Kiatprawut gave evidence of why he is highly regarded, making a sliding tackle to thwart a Yemen player who made a menacing run into the box early in the game.
Having taken time to get into rhythm, the home side managed to open the scoring in the 16th minute when Tawan Sripan's cross from the left was met by Sarayoot Chaikamdee, who sent a firm header into the back of the net, leaving the goalie clutching thin air.
If the partisan crowd thought that it was a sign of things to follow, they were in for a rude shock as the home side struggled to create opening despite enjoying majority of the possession.
The Thai team could have headed into the break two goals in front but Sarayooth spurned a glorious opportunity when his shot of a Nirut Surasiang cross hit the woodwork. The game continued in the same pattern in the second period, with the hosts dominating possession.
Chanvit's men had a claim for a penalty turned down in
the 55th minute when left back Punnarat Klinsukon appeared to have been fouled in the
box. But the referee saw otherwise and waved play on, much to the disappointment of the crowd.
However, the incident seemed to galvanise the hosts as they became more threatening. Nirut came closest when he picked up a Datsakorn Thonglao slide-rule pass and ran clear towards the goalkeeper, who denied him with an excellent save at the near post.
The hosts had two more golden chances towards the closing stages, with the post and the goalie denying them more joy on those occasions.
In another second-round match, Singapore held hosts Tajikistan to a 1-1 draw in Dushanbe to book their place in the 2010 World Cup draw in South Africa next weekend.
They join 11 Asian teams who have already qualified for the third round along with the top seeds from the region - Australia, Japan, South Korea, Iran and Saudi Arabia - who received byes.
Two other berths are up for grabs with Hong Kong playing Turkmenistan later Sunday after a 0-0 first leg, while Indonesia faces the almost impossible task of overturning a 4-1 first leg deficit to Syria when they play in Damascus.
At the draw, the countries will be split into five groups of four teams with the winners and runners up advancing to the fourth round of qualifying.
It will culminate with four teams from Asia playing at the World Cup in 2010, with the region's fifth placed team playing off against the top team from Oceania.
Singapore took a 2-0 advantage into their showdown with Tajikistan and knuckled down to ensure they made it to
the preliminary draw for the first time.