AFC Asian Cup

Historic progression for Thailand, Bahrain break Indian hearts

A Thailand fan during the 2018 AFF Suzuki Cup semi-final between Malaysia and Thailand at Bukit Jalil National Stadium
© Getty Images
  • Thailand qualify for knockout stages for first time since 1972
  • Dramatic late goal clinches Bahrain qualification
  • Hosts United Arab Emirates top Group A

Thailand reached the second round of the AFC Asian Cup for the first time in 40 years, finishing behind hosts United Arab Emirates and just ahead of Bahrain in Group A following a nerve-rattling climax.

India were all set to progress until a last-gasp penalty reshuffled the group, while a point for the War Elephants ended a run of five successive exits in the group stage. wraps up all the action from the final round of Group A games.

India 0-1 Bahrain, Group A
Sharjah Stadium, Sharjah

With Bahrain needing victory, they flew out of the traps to leave India on the back foot early on – Jamal Rashad’s disallowed, though well-taken, goal showing their intent. While India weathered the storm to reassert themselves in the game, Bahrain ended the half looking the most threatening.

That continued into the second period as Miroslav Soukup's side kept rattling nerves in the Indian backline. This was evident when a quick corner and static defending saw Abdulla Yusuf Helal head onto the post, before a back-pass saw the Blue Tigers need to desperately defend an in-direct free-kick.

Bahrain threw everything they had forward in search of a crucial three points and finally it came in heart-breaking fashion for India as Pronay Halder conceded a stoppage-time penalty. Rashad made no mistake from the spot to see Bahrain progress in dramatic fashion, with that goal denying India a first spot in the second round since 1964.

United Arab Emirates 1-1 Thailand
Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium, Al Ain

All looked to be going to the home side's script when Ali Mabkhout made a bright start count, nodding in after Ismail Al Hamadi hit the bar with a nonchalant dink over the keeper. But, after offering little in the first half, Thailand went off against the narrative just before the break, with Thitipan Puangchan pouncing on a defensive mix-up.

That goal looked to ignite Thailand’s fire, as they burst out of the blocks in the second period, looking the most likely to carve out a winner. But, with a draw sending both through, neither side was willing to over-commit in search of victory.

Explore this topic

Recommended Stories