Siam Sport appreciates the depth of the Thai squad and expresses regret when Nishino’s teachers and students lost because of a decision from VAR.
Team depth is considered an important factor throughout Thailand’s U23 Asia 2020 journey. In the final match against Iraq, coach Akira Nishino replaced seven positions in the starting line-up. In the match against Saudi Arabia, the pillars of the previous rest are back.
Thailand played with four attacks including Suphanat Mueanta, Supachai Jaided, Supachok Sarachat and Anon Amornlerdsak. Despite many players, Thailand still played smoothly and joined well in the first 20 minutes of the match.
Compared to the 4-2-3-1 scheme that Nishino usually applies to the Thai team, the U23 team came out with a 4-4-2 diagram on January 18, with the intention of beating the opponent.
Suphanat and Anon are constantly moving in the inner corridor (the area between the border and the middle), and Supachok and Supachai actively move back, supporting the ball from the downline. This style of play clearly shows Nishino’s understanding of the opponent, while giving Thailand an impressive first half, despite being underestimated.
In the second half, when physical strength went down, Thailand had to retreat to play counterattack. In the 78th minute, striker Abdullah Al-Hamdan fell in the penalty area of Thailand.
Initially, referee Ahmed Al-Kaf gave Saudi Arabia a free kick on the edge of the penalty area because Soorawit pulled Al-Hamdan shirt from outside the round of 16m50. But after consulting VAR, the Oman referee gave the West Asian team a penalty, despite the fierce reaction of Nishino’s teachers and students when he thought that Soorawit’s ball was not on Al-Hamdan’s foot.
Siam Sport considered this a VAR incident, because the technology did not require the referee Al-Kaf to review the video. In addition, the layout of the arbitration also made the Thai newspaper questioned because all four control arbitrators were from West Asia.
Although there was not much time to find a equalizer, Thailand was not dismayed. Nishino coach immediately put Worachit and Ben Davis on the pitch to strengthen the attack. However, “War Elephants” can not penetrate the tight defense of Saudi Arabia.
Failure in the quarterfinals but Thailand brought many optimistic signals. In addition to the first round of the Asian U23 group, Nishino teachers and students have specific and effective plans to face the top continental teams such as Australia, Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Young Thai players dare to play football, and stay cool even when faced with adverse decisions. They really won the hearts of Thai fans.