World Cup Qualifying Southeast Asia

Spirited Indonesia Forces Thailand to Draw

Shin Tae-yong’s first competitive match as Indonesia national team head coach ended in a well-deserved point as the Timnas Garuda forced Thailand into a 2-2 draw in Thursday night’s World Cup qualifying action. Captain Evan Dimas was Indonesia’s savior as his 60th minute goal ensured a point for Indonesia at Dubai’s Al-Maktoum Stadium.

Thailand head coach Akira Nishino surprisingly dropped Supachok Sarachat in favor of Pathompol Charoenrattanapirom, with the BG Pathum United man making his national team debut in this match. Indeed, Nishino seems to have his eyes dead set on Thailand’s crunch tie against hosts the United Arab Emirates on June 8th. Putting his eggs into the UAE basket, Nishino also dropped Sasalak Haiprakhon, Thitiphan Puangchan, Tristan Do, Pansa Hembivoon and Supachai Chaided – the Changsuek‘s usual heavy-hitters.

Tae-yong, on the other hand, stuck to his stance of prioritizing the development of Indonesia’s youth players. Captain Evan and Arema FC striker Kushedya Hari Yudo were the bastions of experience in a youthful starting lineup, with foreign-based players Asnawi Mangkualam, Syahrian Abimanyu, Witan Sulaeman, and Egy Maulana Vikri also featuring. Youngsters Rizky Ridho, Pratama Arhan, and I Kadek Agung were thrown straight away into a baptism of fire.

Despite effectively fielding out their second-string team, Thailand took the lead as early as the 5th minute. Buriram United wing-back Narubadin Weerawatnodom slammed home a close-ranged finish past a crowded Indonesian penalty box and into Nadeo Argawinata’s goal.

Indonesia then threatened Siwarak Tedsungnoen’s goal a couple of times after Narubadin’s opener, before Bali United youngster Kadek scored the Timnas Garuda‘s equalizer in the 38th minute. Latching onto a through pass from Syahrian, Kadek positioned himself quite nicely in front of Siwarak before rifling in a powerful shot that left the veteran goalie utterly beaten.

Muangthong United’s Adisak Kraisorn managed to regain the lead for Thailand five minutes into the second half, smacking home a close-ranged header past Nadeo.

However, refusing to throw the towel just yet, captain Evan restored parity for Indonesia in the hour-mark. Taking advantage of an Egy shot being deflected towards him by a Thai defender, Bhayangkara Solo FC man Evan lashed home from close-range past Siwarak to make it 2-2.

No further goals were scored afterwards, ensuring that Indonesia would receive their first point of their World Cup qualifying campaign. Thailand, on the other hand, found themselves in a tight spot after the UAE had demolished Malaysia 4-0 at the same time.

This meant that the UAE, Thailand, and Malaysia all share 9 points with two games to go, with the trio being separated from each other by goal difference and being two points behind unbeaten Group H leaders Vietnam.

Both Indonesia and Thailand are in action once again on June 8th, with Thailand facing off against the UAE at the Zabeel Stadium and Indonesia, buoyed by the solitary point that they earned from Thailand, taking on Vietnam at the Al-Maktoum.