Thailand staged a brilliant fight back from two goals down to draw 2-2 with Iraq in their World Cup qualifier at Rajamangala National Stadium on Tuesday.
The Thai national team showed its fighting spirit after coming from behind to share a point with Iraq in its World Cup Group F qualifying clash. The visitors outclassed Thailand for the first hour of the play as they clinched two goals before and after the interval.
Iraq took half an hour to break the deadlock as Justin Meram opened the scoring for his side, putting them in front just 11 minutes from the break. In the opening minutes of the second half, Iraq doubled their lead when striker Younus Mahood netted the ball past the goalkeeper with a precise header. The second half goal sealed the hope of the Thai national team to win the contest.
The War Elephants came back to the game after a spot kick by Captain Theerathon Bunmathan with 10 minutes remaining in the match. Minutes later, a flowing move from the left led to Sarawut Masuk’s low drilled cross that fell to Mongkol at the far post. Almost 60,000 Thai fans packed in the stadium erupted when the Army United winger deflected the ball into an empty net and certain defeat had now turned into a possible victory.
The home side came into the game on a wave of optimism having swept all before them in Southeast Asia over the past year and having won their first two World Cup qualifiers. But this was a step up in class and the Thais looked out of their depth at times as the Iraqi strikers tormented them throughout the first half.
The away side exposed the basic defensive errors in the Thai playing XI and a lack of overall shape prevented Thailand from getting close to the visitors. But a dramatic finish proved that this side have a backbone providing great encouragement for the remainder of the campaign.
The Thais earned a very hard and possibly crucial point to stay unbeaten in their 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign. IMAGE/bangkokpost