Thailand 1-1 UAE
Thailand: Tossakrai 69'
UAE: Mabkhout 90'
Man of the match: Sanrawat Dechmitr (Thailand)
BANGKOK, THAILAND // The UAE’s hopes of making next summer’s World Cup are almost over after they were held to a 1-1 draw by Thailand at the Rajamangala Stadium on Tuesday in new manager Edgardo Bauza’s first competitive match in charge.
The national team, fourth in Group B and six points off the automatic qualification spots with only two matches remaining, required an injury-time equaliser from Ali Mabkhout after Mongkol Tossakrai had given Thailand the lead midway through the second half.
The late strike denied the hosts a first victory at this stage of qualification for a World Cup. The pool's bottom side, with new manager Milovan Rajevac making his competitive debut as well, were already out of the running to qualify for Russia next summer. For the UAE, their quest for a second World Cup appearance rumbles on, but barely.
■ Talking points: Bauza needs more from Khalil and Abdulrahman in need of support
The visitors had actually started the better side, twice going close in the opening exchanges through Mabkhout. On nine minutes, the Al Jazira striker sliced wide Tariq Ahmed’s low cross, before he then headed over Omar Abdulrahman’s superb chipped pass nine minutes later. Mabkhout, coming off a record-breaking domestic season, should have done better.
Thailand gradually worked their way into the match, though. The hosts were unlucky not to take the lead just before the half-hour, when Adisak Kraisorn’s header from a corner was cleared off the line by Mahmoud Khamis. Moments later, Siroch Chatthong headed over at the back post with only Majed Naser in the UAE goal to beat.
With the UAE visibly tiring early in the second half, Thailand pushed for the opener. Just before the hour mark, the home side had claims for a penalty waved away, when Mohanad Salem slid to stop a cross. However, the Al Ain defender had his back to the ball when it may have brushed his arm.
Thailand were celebrating minutes later, when Tossakrai put them ahead. Peerapat Notchaiya broke down the right side on 69 minutes, his low cross causing panic between Handan Al Kamali and Naser to leave Tossakrai to bundle home.
The UAE pushed for an equaliser, but found goalkeeper Kawin Thamsatchanan in inspired form. Yet he could do nothing to stop Mabkhout stealing a point in injury time, the forward slotting the ball home with seconds remaining.
The result leaves Bauza’s side needing maximum points and a significant swing in goal difference from their final two matches to stand any chance of reaching Russia 2018. They complete their campaign against Saudi Arabia in Abu Dhabi on August 29 before facing Iraq away one week later.
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