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Group B: Thailand 8-1 Lebanon

Tabriz: Thailand sealed top spot in Group B of the AFC U-20 Futsal Championship IR Iran 2019 in style as they defeated Lebanon 8-1 on Sunday.

Thailand will go up against the runners-up of Group A, either Islamic Republic of Iran or Afghanistan, who play later on Sunday, while Lebanon will take on the victors of that tie in Tuesday's quarter-finals.

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Thailand attacked from the first blow of the referee’s whistle, but the likes of Mohamad Elkaiss and Georgio El Khoury, who acted as a pivot, became the source of the West Asians’ point of counter-attack in the opening minutes.

In one such instance in the second minute, El Khoury received a long-range pass in front of the box, and his shot crept past Thai ‘keeper Theerawat Kaewwilai but Somchai Aunyongseng sent the goal-bound ball clear.

Jose Mendez’s Thailand, however, eventually took the lead through a corner set-piece with Thanaway Koedbangrachan having the easiest of tasks of redirecting the ball into the back of the net in the sixth minute.

Lebanon were undaunted despite conceding, and came extremely close to equalising two minutes later when Jamal Selwan and Majd Hamouch set up a two-on-one situation with Kaewwilai but before Hamouch could lay the finishing touch, a surging Aunyongseng came to the rescue to keep Thailand’s lead intact.

Having shown the impact of their set-pieces, Thailand skipper Nattasak Photi then perfectly volleyed home from a corner kick to double their advantage in the ninth minute.

The West Asians, who had impressed in the West Zone Qualifiers and in the match against Kyrgyz Republic the day before, put up a strong fight but a lapse in concentration saw captain Steve Koukezian dispossessed by Supakorn Sangom in the final third, and Siksaka Pramanong converted the pass with a crackling right-footed strike to make it 3-0.

The end to end action continued in the second half, with the pressure heavily on Lebanon to stage a comeback, but they suffered another setback in the 25th minute when Pramanong’s corner kick deflected off Hussein Hamieh’s legs and into the back of the net.

Things got from bad to worse for Lebanon at the half-hour mark with Thailand’s Sivakorn Jongkolthakorn and Chutipong Suraditanunt scoring their first goals of the tournament respectively.

Thailand weren’t done yet, as Krit Aransanyalak made it 7-0 on 34 minutes after the Southeast Asians moved on a counter-attack and the skilful forward was perfect with his strike.

Lebanon did score a consolation goal in the 36th minute when Hassan Shebab sent Koukezian’s rebound into the top right corner of the net, but Jongkolthakorn completed Thailand's emphatic win with a spectacular strike from a tight angle in the final minute of the match.

Jose Mendez: Thailand head coach

“Nobody expected what would happen today. Lebanon came in as favourites. We scored the first two goals, and we controlled the game after that but if both teams were fresh, it would’ve been a whole different game for sure. I don’t see ‘my’ Thailand in this first two games. I know we can play faster than this. If we want to have any chance against Afghanistan or Islamic Republic of Iran, we definitely need to play better than this.”

Tarek Rizk: Lebanon head coach

“It wasn’t just because we were tired. It’s hard to play when you concede two goals from set-pieces. Lack of concentration, yes. We made a lot mistakes from set-pieces, and missed our chances in the opening half. Now we need to rest and look forward to our opponents in the quarter-finals.

Photos: AFC

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