Thailand survived an early scare against India to hit back in their next two games and book their place in the knockout stage of the AFC Asian Cup 2019 in spectacular fashion.
But now that they are finally there, what can the War Elephants really expect? Well, as it turns out, the task doesn’t get a whole lot easier for them.
In all likelihood, the Thai team can come across one of two teams from Group C, per the grouping – which means a tough tie awaits them since that is the group featuring China PR and Korea Republic.
The first option for Thailand is that they end up facing China PR. A nation that is no stranger to the AFC Asian Cup, China will pose a threat for any team in the competition.
But they haven’t looked all that solid yet so far in this tournament. The Chinese actually fell behind in their first game against the Kyrgyz Republic, and required all their powers of recovery to hit back and then finally take the lead. Though they won 2-1, it showed cracks in their armory, and will certainly give Thailand a lot of hope.
Their second game in the tournament however, was a dominant 3-0 drubbing of debutants Philippines – so the Thais better be wary of the threat that comes with the likes of Wu Lei and Yu Dabao.
The second option from this group is Korea Republic. Again, not a lot of flattering performances from the Koreans in their first two matches at the AFC Asian Cup, but they got the job done nonetheless.
A narrow 1-0 win against both the Philippines and Kyrgyz Republic means that the 2002 World Cup semi-finalists are going to qualify for the knockout stages, but with hardly a dominant showing.
They will be lucky enough to have the services of star player Son Heung-min however, who makes the jump from Tottenham Hotspur to aid his side’s run towards the end of this tournament.
With China and Korea Republic yet to face off, this could well be the decider in the group since both sides are going through anyway.
If you are Thailand, you may want to face the team that loses this particular encounter between the two sides, since momentum can be key in a tournament such as this one. This contest promises to be an intriguing watch all the way through.