5 talking points as Thailand play out 1-1 draw vs Iraq to reach AFC U23 Championship 2020 quarter-finals

Thailand U23 managed to hold Iraq U23 for a 1-1 draw in their final AFC U23 Championship Group A encounter at the Rajamangala Stadium. The draw ensured that the War Elephants earn a spot in the quarterfinals of the tournament as the second-placed team in the group behind Australia.

Here are FIVE talking points from the encounter.

#1 VAR helps Thailand take an early lead

The War Elephants started on the front foot at the Rajamangala Stadium in Bangkok and earned a corner in the very first minute of the match. Though their corner was eventually cleared, the referee was informed by the VAR that there’s a possible handball situation.

Thailand were awarded a penalty and Jaroensak Wonggorn made no mistake in converting from the spot and getting his third goal of the competition.

#2 Suphanat Mueanta gets a string of opportunities to increase Thailand’s lead

The 17-year-old forward was in sublime touch in the first half and had at least four clear cut chances to increase Thailand’s lead. However, despite getting a host of opportunities, he failed to beat Iraqi goalkeeper Ali Kadhim Hadi.

The young Buriram United star has to be credited for getting into goal-scoring positions consistently, however.

#3 Ali Kadhim Hadi keeps Iraq in the game

The 22-year-old Iraq goalkeeper was at his brilliant best in the first half, making a string of saves to keep his side in the game. Suphanat Mueanta was at the receiving end of his saves on four consecutive occasions.

However, Ali Kadhim made himself big in one-on-one situations and saved both the long-distance shots from the young Thailand forward as well.

#4 Iraq strike back early in the second half

Though Iraq went down early in the first half, they were undoubtedly the better team. Abdul-Ghani Shahad’s boys started the second half strongly as well and were rewarded for their dominance soon after.

In the 49th minute of the encounter, Mohammed Nassif blasted the ball into the net following a corner. Korraphat Nareechan had no answer to the shot as Iraq made a comeback into the match four minutes into the second half to make things all the more interesting.

#5 Korraphat Nareechan makes point-blank save in 90th minute to save Thailand

The Thailand goalkeeper saved a certain goal from two yards away and kept his side in the hunt for a quarter-final spot. It was Murad Subeh’s header which was stopped from going in by Korraphat and in the 90th minute of the match.

Had the header gone in, Iraq would have qualified for the quarter-finals as the second-placed team in Group A behind Australia. But Thailand managed to hold on and survived a late onslaught from Iraq to enter the last-eight of the AFC U23 Championship 2020.

Cover Image Credit: AFC