Thailand’s campaign to reach the knock out stage of the Asian Games football competition ran into a wall after they were held 1-1 by unfancied Bangladesh in their Group B football competition at the Pakan Sari Stadium on Thursday.
Thailand entered the game with growing confidence after pushing 2006 winners Qatar to the limit in a 1-1 draw on Tuesday. They fully expected to get the job done last night but Bangladesh proved a tough nut to crack.
They even took a shock lead in the 52nd minute through striker Mahbubur Rahman Sufil and it was not until 10 minutes from time that Thailand levelled the tie, as the outstanding Supachai Chaided fired in a left-foot drive for his second goal in two games. Progressing to the knockouts now appears to be a forlorn task for Thailand, three-time fourth-place finishers at the Asiad.
"When we expected too much, we ended up putting pressure on ourselves. We hurried too much and lost opportunities," said national coach Worrawoot Srimaka.
Their goal had been to achieve four points from their first two matches in order to secure their last-16 berth even before meeting powerful Uzbekistan in their third and final group encounter.
The draw has left them needing to score an unlikely victory on Sunday.
"It's good to be in this situation as we have to gor for three scores. There's no turning back," he added.
In the women's football first preliminary round competition, Thailand lost to Japan 0-2 and will need to win their last match against Vietnam in order to proceed to the next round as second-placed finisher.
In women's handball, Thailand displayed better teamwork and sharper skills as they outplayed hosts Indonesia 34-16 to register their first group B win after a first-up 41-16 loss to Japan on Tuesday.
The women's team, which has finished seventh in three successive Games, will play their next match against Hong Kong on Sunday.
Later on Thursday, the women brought further good news for Thailand as the polo team, the reigning SEA Games champions, downed Hong Kong 19-6 in the six-team round-robin competition. They face Kazakhstan this afternoon in their second game.
Meanwhile Thai chef de mission Thana Chaiprasit revealed that volleyball star Pluemjit Thinkaow would carry the national flag leading the Thai delegation during the athletes' Opening Ceremony parade on Saturday. The event is being broadcast live on the Workpoint Channel at 7pm.
National volleyball coach Danai Sriwatcharamethakul gave a nod for the middle blocker to participate in the ceremony despite having her being involved in a game against Indonesia the next day.
Pluemjit is the first female athlete to carry the national flag in 20 years, since the honour went to runner Rawadee Wattanasin in the 1998 Bangkok Games.
"I'm so honoured to be given this opportunity. It really means a lot to me because this will be my last Asian Games," said the 34-year-old, who was part of the bronze medal team in the 2014 Games.
About 6,000 performers are expected to participate in the opening ceremony, which will be attended by Deputy Prime Minister and Olympic Committee of Thailand president Prawit Wongsuwan and Tourism and Sports Minister Weerasak Kowsurat.
Thana also said that the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) had urged the Games organising committee to finalise the competition programme after several changes had been made.
Thai chef de mission Thanachai Prasit presents a souvenir to an Indonesian official.
According to the Thai official the hosts were fully prepared in several aspects, bar some minor hiccups, including an unpunctual shuttle bus service and insufficient drinking water in some venues.
Published : August 16, 2018
By : Lerpong Amsa-ngiam The Nation