Thailand reached the semifinals of the men's soccer competition in the 27th SEA Games for the first time in four years even though they claimed only a 1-1 draw with hosts Myanmar in their Group B clash yesterday.
The hosts took a 1-0 halftime lead but the Thai side, who suffered back-to-back group stage exits in the previous two editions of the biennial event, managed to salvage a draw shortly after the restart. Atit Daosawang had his shot blocked but the ball fell invitingly for Praweenwat Boonyong who made no mistake from close range.
The result kept the Thais, the most successful team in the tournament’s history, at the top of the standings with one game remaining. They were level on seven points from three games with hosts Myanmar. However, they were already assured of a spot in the last four thanks to their better head- to-head record against third-placed Indonesia, who had four points after goalless stalemate with Timor Leste.
Coach Kiatisak “Zico” Senamuang believed his decision to field first-choice players for the match at Thuwanna stadium in Rangoon was vindicated after his side sealed the semifinal berth with a draw.
“Given the result in the group’s other match, we achieve our target by claiming a draw. It’s not a bad thing to get a draw with the host country and it already guaranteed us a place in the last four. All the lads played very well today under such pressurised atmosphere,” said Kiatisak, whose side will face Cambodia in their final group match on Monday.