Thailand to meet South Korea or China in last 16
Thailand reached the knockout stage of the Asian Cup for the first time, despite a 1-1 draw with the United Arab Emirates in their final Group A match yesterday morning (Singapore time).
The War Elephants yielded a physical advantage to the bigger and stronger UAE team, but they were not to be cowed, hitting back through Thitiphan Puangchan after conceding an early goal.
Despite an inferior goal difference, the Thais, who are level on four points with Bahrain, took second spot in the group as the head-to-head record is used first to separate teams with the same points.
Thailand, who defeated Bahrain 1-0 earlier, will meet the Group C runners-up - either China or South Korea - in their last-16 match on Sunday.
The UAE, who are also the hosts, clinched top spot in Group A and will meet one of the four third-placed teams who will progress to the last 16 along with the top-two teams from each group.
The Thais' qualification for the knockout stage marks a turnaround following an embarrassing 4-1 loss to India in their first match, which resulted in the sacking of Serbian coach Milovan Rajevac.
But interim head coach Sirisak Yodyardthai has restored confidence in the team since he took over.
Meanwhile, India coach Stephen Constantine has quit after they crashed out following a 1-0 loss to Bahrain yesterday.