Supachai double sees Thailand surprise wasteful Kyrgyzstan

January 16 – Thailand snatched the first points available in Group F of the Asian Cup, defeating Kyrgyzstan 2-0 courtesy of a brace from striker Supachai Jaided at the Abdullah Bin Khalifa stadium in Doha.

A cagey affair that saw underdogs Thailand invent the lion’s share of quality attacking chances, it was Supachai that made the difference between the two sides.

Thailand opened the match on top, with the clear chemistry between players shining through. Many of the team play together domestically for Thai League side Buriram Utd, who achieved a league-first double-treble as the side picked up all six domestic trophies available across two straight seasons.

Kyrgyzstan delivered a stern and experienced defensive wall, relying on individual creativity up front from winger Gulzhigit Alykulov, who caused trouble for Thai defenders from the first whistle.

The half opened with a period of even attacking play, as both teams seemed just one pass away from going in front.

The War Elephants thought that Supachai had given their side the lead with a close-range effort following a rebound off the post, but it was chalked off by VAR for offside.

Thailand looked particularly effective with their fast-paced counter attack. In the 22nd minute, Thai winger Suphanat Mueanta struck the bar – just inches away from putting his side in front.

Two minutes later, Supachai scored the opening goal to begin a spell of dominance from the War Elephants, who had already struck the frame of the goal twice. Supachai netted the close range finish after opposition keeper Tokotaev clumsily parried an incoming cross into his path of the striker.

End-to-end action ensued as Kyrgyzstan unsuccessfully pressed to level the scores before half time.

The break could not come soon enough for Thailand.

Refuelled by the 15 minute hiatus, Thailand returned to the pitch with an impressive energy, fashioning multiple chances in quick succession.

After a period of ferocious attacking, Thailand doubled their lead through striker Supachai who netted a volley from close range after another mistake by Kyrgyz keeper Erzhan Tokotaev.

Thailand continued to create chances, the best of which coming from a sweeping cross that striker Supachai failed to convert in a goal that would have given the player his first hattrick for his country.

In a bid to turn things around, Stefan Tarkovic made a switch to his front line by subbing on Ernest Batyrkanov in the place of club teammate Joel Kojo – the pair play as an attacking partnership for Kyrgyz side Dordoi FC.

As fatigue began to eat into the legs of the Kyrgyz players, passes started to be missed and multiple chances went begging.

Concern for Thailand came when Supachai went down injured in the 77th minute, leaving the pitch on a stretcher. Thailand will be hoping the injury doesn’t keep the striker out of the rest of the tournament.

Speaking after the game, Thai defender Mickelson said: “I think we could have scored more tonight. We created a lot, two shots hit the post that could have been goals.”

Kyrgyz defender Tamirlan Kozubaev said: “It’s football, if you cannot score, you cannot win. We will go back to our hotel and analyse our game in preparation for our next match.”

Thailand face Oman next. If the War Elephants can rack up six points they will surely qualify for the next round, even before meeting Saudi Arabia in the third and final matchday of the group stages.

Meanwhile Kyrgyzstan face a tough test against Saudi Arabia, as they hope to bounce back from the disappointing opening loss and revive their Asian Cup journey.

Contact the writer of this story, Harry Ewing, at moc.l1712961519labto1712961519ofdlr1712961519owedi1712961519sni@g1712961519niwe.1712961519yrrah1712961519

 

 


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