Thailand dishes Australia world cup surprise

PHUKET: Cheers could be heard across Phuket as Thailand scored first against Australia in the FIFA World Cup 2014 qualifying match late this afternoon.

The affair marked both sides’ opening match for the World Cup 2014 third round Asia regional qualifiers.

Thailand and Australia were drawn in Group D along with Saudi Arabia and Oman, who also play tonight.

Since only the top two teams in the group will advance to the next round, a win was highly valued.

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About 24,500 fans came to cheer on the Socceroos at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, Australia, for the 8pm local time game (5pm Thailand time).

Australian players, fans and media came into the game confident, considering the Socceroos had beaten the War Elephants 4-0 in both previous encounters, in 1982 and 2007.

Australia looked the most likely to score early, dominating possession from the kickoff.

However, Thailand shocked fans by opening the scoring in the 14th minute after Sompong Soleb intercepted a pass from about 70 meters from the Australian goal.

The Buriram FC forward led the ensuing Thai counter attack, passing to teammate Jakkraprom Kaewprom – who plays for Thailand Premiere League’s top-ranked club, Buriaram PEA.

Sprinting up the right ring, Jakkraprom sent a perfectly timed cross to Teerasil Dangda who had beaten his marker.

In a single touch, the Muang Thong United forward netted the ball prompting an enthusiastic celebration of Thailand’s first ever goal against Australia.

The goal marked Thailand’s first goal against Australia and the 39th cap for the 23-year-old striker who plays for Muang Thong Utd

Thai fans were overwhelmed with joy celebrating Thailand’s first goal ever against the Socceroos, although the celebrations didn’t last long.

The Aussies stepped up their offense, attacking more than a dozen times in the first 25 minutes, and continued attacking throughout the rest of the game.

Thailand was able to maintain their lead into halftime, leaving Australian fans with fledgling doubts about their side’s performance.

Home fans were finally awakened in the 58th minute with an equalizer thanks to Brisbane Roar hero Matthew McKay, who drove strong down the left wing past Thai defenders.

McKay’s direct shot at goal was deflected by Thailand’s goalkeeper, but rebounded straight to the foot of Josh Kennedy in the middle of the penalty box.

Kennedy, ecstatic, sent the ball to the back of the net.

The score marked the 10th cap for Kennedy, who plays for Nagoya Grampu in the Japan league.

Moments later, it looked as if Australia were to double their lead after a corner resulted in a header by Everton striker Tim Cahill.

Although the replay showed that the goal should have been awarded, it was disallowed after the assistant referee raised his flag, believing that Cahill had fouled the goalkeeper.

Australia kept their attack up and in the 86th minute sealed the game with a strike by Alex Brosque, who scored after a long pass from the left wing landed in the penalty box.

Australia, with three points in the bag, will next play Saudi Arabia on Tuesday.

Thailand will play Oman at the Rajamangala Stadium in Bangkok the same day, with the kickoff set to start the match 6:30pm.

Phuket News

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