Asia FIFA World Cup

Thailand Brave Odds to Earn China Draw

Despite the odds being stacked against them, Thailand braved a hostile Shenyang Olympic Centre and earned themselves a potentially valuable point in a 1-1 draw with China in their 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifying match on Thursday, which left their chances of qualifying out of Group C still open.

Thailand had to endure an arduous trip to Shenyang for their qualifier match, with the city being located close to the North Korean border and with no direct flights there from Bangkok. The decision to have the match played there was seen as a tactical move from the Chinese camp, who seek to tire out their opponents through their long travels in hopes of securing all three points.

Thankfully TOA Paint Company CEO Jatuphat Tangkaravakoon pitched in by helping to fund Thailand’s charter flight to Shenyang, allowing the Changsuek to properly prepare themselves for the match.

The match started physically, with both teams earning early yellow cards for right-backs Wang Zhen’ao and Suphanan Bureerat.

However, the visitors gained control after the first 10 minutes. Supachai Chaided saw his shot blocked and then had a follow-up attempt from range saved by Wang Dalei.

Success for Supachai came in a different role 20 minutes in, as he reached the left byline and delivered a cross into the area, where Supachok Sarachat headed home from close range to give Thailand the lead.

The hosts responded with a free-kick from Wei Shihao just before the half-hour mark, forcing Patiwat Khammai to make a save.

Thailand continued to press as the half drew to a close. Sarach Yooyen’s powerful strike from 30 yards struck the crossbar, and in first-half stoppage time, Suphanat Mueanta’s shot across goal hit the far post and rebounded out.

China had a prime opportunity to equalize four minutes into the second half when Kritsada Kaman was penalized for a handball in the box. However, Fei Nanduo missed the penalty, sending his shot over the bar.

In the 70th minute, Fei Nanduo tried to redeem himself by rounding Patiwat, but off-balance and with a tight angle, his cut-back into the area did not find a teammate.

China eventually equalized 11 minutes from time. After Patiwat was forced off with an injury, substitute goalkeeper Saranon Anuin’s first action was to retrieve the ball from his net. A free-kick into the area was headed on by Zhu Chenjie to substitute Behram Abduweli, who volleyed home from close range on his debut.

In stoppage time, Suphanat had a chance to reclaim the lead for Thailand but missed the target with his header. Moments later, Supachok cut inside from the left and forced Wang Dalei into a spectacular save, tipping the ball onto the bar.

The draw meant that China remained second in Group C, with Thailand trailing behind them at third place, three points off the East Asians and with an inferior goal difference. However, Thailand’s final match will saw them take on a Singapore side who only has one point in five matches, while China will face the daunting task of stopping an already-qualified South Korea in Seoul.