Thailand were left barely clinging on to qualification for the 2014 FIFA World Cup after a 1-0 loss to Australia at the Supachalasai Stadium. Their faint hopes were kept alive when Oman held Saudi Arabia to a 0-0 draw in Riyadh. In the final game Thailand must win in Oman and hope that the Socceroos can take care of the Saudis in Australia.
This game looked to be heading towards a goalless draw until the two Bretts combined with an unmarked Holman nodding home an Emerton cross with 14 minutes left on the clock.
Australia were subdued for most of the match, and Thailand should have taken the lead on 35 minutes through Suree. He got past Australia's left back, Zullo, and with a clear run on goal he seemed to panic and blasted his shot over the bar. The Chonburi man controlled the through pass perfectly, but with lack of options in the box, he reluctantly took the shot on.
The game appeared to be harmlessly sailing out to a 0-0 draw until Holman netted on the 76th minute. The closest Thailand came to equalizing was when newly introduced substitute, Pipob, headed inches over on 79 minutes.
The Socceroos held out reasonably comfortably after that to book their place in Round 4. It wasn't a great performance for Australia although they'll be happy with the outcome.
For Thailand, it's now 3 games without a goal. The national side has improved massively under Winfried Schaefer and let's hope there will be no knee-jerk reaction from the FAT if Thailand fail to qualify. I was surprised though that the German chose to start with a striker that has only scored one TPL goal this season whilst leaving the lively, Pipob, on the bench. Also why have the top three TPL scorers been omitted from his squad?
A miserable evening was completed for Kirati when he was stretchered off in the 78th minute. The majority of the crowd were unhappy that Australia played on after Kirati crashed into the big Aussie keeper, Mark Schwarzer. After the match the Fulham stopper tweeted "First time tonight I have every played on when a player has gone down
'injured' we just have had enough of the constant diving and acting!"
In Australia's defence, there were three or four occasions when Thai players just lay down waiting for play to be stopped for treatment. The ball was kicked out each time, only for the Thai player to bounce straight off the stretcher back on to the field. Eventually a Thai player, Kirati, was seriously injured, but the referee and opposition players had had enough by then and played on.
In Thai football culture, play is expected to be stopped any time a player is injured. Unfortunately this rule gets abused with constant faking of injuries especially if a team holds an advantage. Referees are slowly becoming wise to this and there have been times this season when play has been waved on with an injured player lying on the ground much to the bemusement of the Thai crowd. It really irks me when a see a player lying down waiting for treatment as his side are defending. He's basically leaving his side a player short and at a disadvantage. The first rule of football is "PLAY TO THE WHISTLE."
If Thailand want to improve standards in their game then the feigning of injury needs to be stamped out and it must be understood that it is the match officials that decide when play is stopped, not the players!!