Paraguay have qualified for the knockout phase of the FIFA Futsal World Cup with battling 3-2 win over Thailand at a raucous Huamark Indoor Stadium. The hosts, for their part, must wait to find out if they can finish among the best third-placed teams, although they will wonder what might have been but for scores of missed chances.
The Thais went into the match knowing that a win would take them through but they endured a nightmare start, falling three goals behind inside the opening ten minutes. Adolfo Salas scored the first with a low shot from wide on the right that sneaked inside the far post, and Enmanuel Ayala – back from suspension – doubled their lead with a shot high into the roof of the net, his fourth goal in just two matches.
Thailand were actually dominating in terms of possession and shots on goal at this stage, but clinical Paraguay made them pay again soon after when Juan Salas side-footed into the unguarded net after Prakit Dankunthod had parried at the feet of Jose Luis Santander. It was looking grim for the Thais at this stage, but their customary comeback began just a minute later when star player Suphawut Thueanklang reacted first to shoot low into the net after a frantic penalty box scramble
The goal was greeted by a huge roar by the magnificent home support, and the excitement in the stands reached fever pitch five minutes into the second half when Victor Hermans’ side drew level. This time, Paraguay were caught out by Apiwat Chaemcharoen’s quickly taken corner, which the alert Jetsada Chomboon blasted high into the net.
The fans urged their team forward in search of an equaliser but composure was all too often lacking from the Thais’ energetic attacking play, and they now face an agonising wait before discovering if their FIFA Futsal World Cup adventure is at an end.
"The beginning was a bit better than against Ukraine but I was scared again when the score went to 3-0. Then my team started playing and scoring goals. In the end we only lacked that bit of luck that would have brought us the equaliser," Victor Hermans, Thailand coach.
“It is never easy to play the host team because of the crowd, but we showed some character. I still think we are not playing to our usual level but, even so, we did have chances to put the game away in the second half. A new competition starts now (in the knockout stage), and we mush improve," Fernande Leite, Paraguay coach.