Thailand on top after Indonesia rout
Supachok stars in War Elephants’ big victory
Supachok Sarachat’s second-half heroics gave Thailand a convincing 3-0 victory over Indonesia in their second 2022 World Cup Asian Zone Group G qualifier on Tuesday night.
The Thais were eager to grab three points from the match and the result eased pressure on their new coach Akira Nishino, who had drawn ire of the Thai fans for going into Thursday’s goalless draw with Vietnam without an out-and-out scorer.
The victory at near-empty, 80,000-seat Gelora Bung Karno Stadium in Jakarta lifted the War Elephants to the top of the group standings.
Thailand now have four points from two games, one point more than Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates — the seeded team in the group.
Malaysia, who defeated Indonesia at the same venue in their first match on Thursday, lost 2-1 to the UAE at home.
Nishino gave Supachai Jaided, the only specialist striker in the squad, a start but the Buriram United forward did not get many opportunities to showcase his scoring talents.
Teenage Chiang Rai United midfielder Ekanit Panya made an impressive debut for the War Elephants, starting in place of injured Thitiphan Puangjan on the right side of the Thai attack.
However, it was Supachok who caused the most trouble for the Indonesians with forays on the left and was able to combine well with his Buriram teammate Supachai.
It was a clever short pass from Supachai in the second half that helped Supachok to steer clear of the Indonesian defence and net the first goal for the Thais 10 minutes after the break.
Supachok was instrumental in winning a penalty for the War Elephants shortly after the hour mark when he was brought down by Indonesia goalkeeper and captain Andritany Ardhiyasa after a quick exchange with Ekanit inside the box.
Experienced Theerathon Bunmathan stepped up and calmly planted the ball into the roof of the net with a left-footed sizzler from the spot.
The hosts had looked ominous after the break but the War Elephants’ second strike took the wind out of their sails.
Whatever hopes of a comeback the Garudas were harbouring were mercilessly dashed by Supachok after 70 minutes when he was deftly set up J-League-based Thai star Theerathon.