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Jubilant Thailand into AFC U-23 quarter-finals

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Jubilant Thailand into AFC U-23 quarter-finals




Jaroensak Wonggorn


Thailand reserved a historic quarter-final spot in the AFC U-23 Championship after they forced a 1-1 draw with Iraq to finish second in Group A competition at the Rajamangala National Stadium on Tuesday.


A penalty kick by Jaroensak Wonggorn put the War Elephants in the driver’s seat since in the sixth minute after Najm Shwan’s handball offence and a subsequent VAR review.


Despite a fightback goal by Mohammed Nassif just four minutes after the second half, Thailand ended the battle with the needed point which propelled them to the knock-out stage for the first time in the tournament’s history. The home team, with four points, joined group leader Australia (five points) in the last eights.


“Both the players and the coaching staff have been working hard which brought this result,” said national coach Akira Nishino of Japan. “At least we’ve moved a step further by reaching the quarter-finals,” added the former Japan World Cup’s team coach.


Impressive results from the group stage served as a significant redemption for the Thai U23 team after they were eliminated from the December’s SEA Games in the early round.


“I didn’t get to know the players well in the SEA Games. I poorly managed the team and we had to play on the artificial grass every other day. That’s why we had poor results in the Games.


“ (About the Tuesday’s game) We made a big change in the first line-up (7 players) because several players have been exhausted. So, I decided to field reserved players who did well in the training. I just wanted to give them a chance,” Nishino said.


Thailand will play their next match against Group B leader on Saturday at the Thammasat Rangsit campus. Tournament’s winner, runner-up and third-place finisher will earn slots into the Olympics.


“We want to challenge the bigger teams more. We’ve gained experience with good teams in this tournament but our players still need to learn more.”




Source: https://www.nationthailand.com/sport/30380574



-- © Copyright The Nation Thailand 2020-01-15
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