The highly-anticipated 2022 FIFA World Cup second round qualifier between Thailand and Vietnam served up plenty of drama but ultimately ended in a 0-0 draw at the Thammasat Stadium on Thursday evening.
Having been dethroned as kings of Southeast Asia by Vietnam as last year’s AFF Suzuki Cup, there was plenty of interest to see if Thailand would be able to get one over their fierce rivals – especially considering new coach Akira Nishino had named a squad boasting just one striker following injuries to Teerasil Dangda and Suphanat Mueanta.
Incredibly, that solitary attacking option – Supachai Jaided – did not even make the starting XI as midfielders Thitipan Puangchan and Supachok Sarachat were deployed in unfamiliar roles.
On the other hand, Vietnam looked a much more settled outfit and could have taken the lead inside the opening minute following a lapse in concentration by the opposition but Nguyen Van Toan could only drag his shot wide.
Gradually, the hosts got into the contest and Thitipan actually was proving to be a decent target man as he offered his side a genuine focal point, narrowly failing to get on the end of a couple of crosses in the first half.
Both sides continued to probe carefully after the break but, as the second half wore on, it increasingly looked as though a draw was on the cards.
There was still time for one final bit of drama in the fourth minute of injury-time however, as Supachok burst through and took the ball past Vietnam goalkeeper Dang Van Lam, but had just left himself with too acute an angle to work with as the visitors recovered to deal with the threat and hold on to a point.
THAILAND: Siwarak Tedsungnoen, Tristan Do, Manuel Bihr, Pansa Hemviboon, Theerathon Bunmathan, Tanaboon Kesarat, Sarach Yooyen (Supachai Jaided 67′), Phitiwat Sukjitthammakul (Sivakorn Tiatrakul 76′), Chanathip Songkrasin, Thitipan Puangchan (Peeradon Chamratsamee 74′), Supachok Sarachat.
VIETNAM: Dang Van Lam, Do Duy Manh (Doan Van Hau 73′), Que Ngoc Hai, Bui Tien Dung, Nguyen Trong Hoang (Vu Van Thanh 65′), Nguyen Tuan Anh, Do Hung Dung, Nguyen Phong Hong Duy, Nguyen Quang Hai, Nguyen Van Toan, Nguyen Tien Linh (Nguyen Cong Phuong 46′).
Photo credit: Football Association of Thailand