Group D: Lebanon 5-2 Thailand
Taipei: Lebanon produced a dominant performance as they scored a 5-2 win over Thailand to surge to the top of Group D of the 2018 AFC Futsal Championship on Sunday.
Lebanon needed a win to have a fighting chance of reaching the knockout phase after playing to a 2-2 draw with Kyrgyz Republic in their opener, and pressed the issue from the beginning, while Thailand, who enjoyed a 5-1 win over Jordan, moved patiently with the ball.
However, it didn’t take long for Lebanon to take the lead, as Mohammad Kobeissy found the back of the net from a corner set play in the third minute, before Ahmad Kheir El Dine intercepted a pass and beat goalkeeper Kanison Phoonpun to double their advantage three minutes later.
Lebanon were definitely more coordinated in their attacks, with quick one-two touches that kept Thailand’s backline under pressure, and despite Jose Maria Pazos changing their tactics with multiple flying substitutions, Thailand’s best chances came from counter-attacks but the West Asians were too quick on their feet.
Ali Tneich furthered their advantage with a simple tap in when Phoonpun failed to hold the ball in the 23rd minute, and two minutes later, Thailand activated the power play which backfired immediately with Hassan Zeitoun sending a long range shot into an empty goalmouth.
Thailand maintained their five-men approach which eventually paid dividends as Jetsada Chudech’s shot deflected off the Lebanese defence and into the goalmouth in the 27th minute, before Suphawut Thueanklang shot from close range to make it 4-2 in the 29th.
Even when they were forced into a defensive position, Lebanon looked dangerous and 30 seconds from time, Ali El Homsi’s shot bounced into an unguarded goal to seal the win.
Thailand will look to seal a quarter-final berth when they play Kyrgyz Republic on Tuesday, while Lebanon face Jordan.
Shahab Sofalmanesh: Lebanon Head Coach
“Today we had the chance to show the reality of our player’s potential, and Asia will now have to respect Lebanon. We won against one of the best teams in Asia, with experienced players and coach. We went into the game not thinking about how Thailand will play but we thought of how we want to play instead. My players had 100 percent focus from the very beginning and were perfect mentally going against one of the best. I am still not thinking about the quarter-finals right now, because we still have Jordan to face. They (Jordan) didn’t perform as well as I thought they would, but they are still strong and tough opponents.”
Jose Maria Pazos: Thailand Head Coach
“When the other team is better than you, you have to recognise that, and Lebanon played better. We played a terrible game, losing our chances and possession so easily. It was a real disaster for us, because they (Lebanon) played very well. We needed to do something drastic, because the mentality of the players was going down, so we went with power play in the 25th minute. If we play like this against Kyrgyz Republic, we will be out of the tournament. We need to come back and play more aggressively, and pay more concentration to the game.”