AFC ASIAN CUP

Rajamangala Stadium

Referee: Jong-chul Kwon

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Thailand

  • Sutee Suksomkit 6' PEN

1 - 1

FT

Iraq

  • Younis Khalef 32'

Thailand 2-2 Iraq: Rainy opening to Asian Cup

BANGKOK, July 7 (Reuters) - Striker Younes Khalef scored

the equaliser to earn Iraq a 1-1 draw with Group A hosts

Thailand in the opening match of the Asian Cup on Saturday.

Khalef headed the ball into the back of the net to secure

the draw and spoil Thailand's planned celebrations on a wet and

miserable night in Bangkok.

'There was a lot of rain... a lot of water in the stadium,'

Iraq's Portuguese coach Jorvan Vieira told reporters. 'My team

is a good tactical team but we cannot play in those

conditions.'

Khalef's goal combined with Thailand's fickle weather to

ruin the hosts' hopes of a better start.

The expansive Rajamangala stadium was less than half full

after the city was drenched by a tropical storm that caused

flash flooding in the surrounding suburbs and kept thousands of

potential spectators away.

The pitch had been badly soaked, preventing both teams from

developing any fluency and they resorted to long-range shots on

goal to try and break the deadlock in the second half.

'It was difficult, the state of the pitch made it hard to

control the ball and we lost it in midfield a lot,' Charnwit

Polcheewin said.

Iraq had the better of the first half but went behind early

to a hotly disputed penalty converted by Sutee Suksomkit.

Thailand's chief playmaker Datsakorn Thonglao caught the

Iraq defence napping in the sixth minute when he flicked the

ball to his teammate Kiatisuk Senamuang who fell in the penalty

box after making light contact with Ali Rehema.

Referee Kwon Jong-chul waved away the Iraqi protests before

Sutee stepped up to the spot and coolly slotted home.

Iraq were unlucky not to draw level when midfielder Salih

Al Sadwn executed a brilliant bicycle kick that Kosin

Hathairattanakool tipped onto the bar.

Kosin pulled off another diving save from Sadwn but was

powerless to stop the Iraqis from equalising in the 31st minute

when Khalef climbed above two defenders to connect with a Sadwn

free-kick and head the ball into the back of the net.

Neither side could break through in the second half as the

conditions began to make the pitch even more slippery as they

settled for a point each.

'We did not want to play a long-ball game, but football is

like this sometimes,' Vieira said of Iraq's tactics and the

rain.

Australia and Oman, who are also in Group A, play their

opening match at the same ground on Sunday.

Scoring Summary

  • Thailand
  • Iraq
Sutee Suksomkit (pen 6')

Teams

  • Thailand
  • Iraq
Substitutes
Substitutions
Yellow Cards