Thailand kept their World Cup dream alive after securing a 2-2 draw at Palestine for a 3-2 aggregate win on Thursday night.
Midfielder Datsakorn Thonglao was Thailand’s hero as his double helped the Kingdom reach Asia’s third qualifying round for the 2014 World Cup.
Murad Elyyan gave Thailand a scare when he put Palestine in front twice in the sixth and 90th minute only for Datsakorn to equalise on both occasions.
It was Winfried Schaefer’s first assignment as Thailand’s coach and he admitted that his men need improvement.
At Faysal Al-Husseini stadium in the West Bank, Thailand’s 1-0 lead from the first leg was quickly cancelled out by Elyyan.
The Palestinians were dominant in the opening stages and Thailand goalkeeper Kawin Thammasatchanan was forced to make several fine saves.
However, Datsakorn restored Thailand’s aggregate lead in the 33rd minute with a crucial away goal.
The home team were still the better side in the second half and Elyyan stunned Thailand to give Palestine a 2-1 lead on the night on the stroke of full time.
Palestine needed another goal to advance but they were reduced to 10 men in injury time when Khadir Yosef brought down Datsakorn just outside the area.
Datsakorn then sent the ball into the back of the net from the ensuing free-kick to settle Thailand’s nerves and end Palestine’s World Cup dream.
Schaefer said: “We were a bit lucky, There are several things that we have to improve particularly our defence.”
The German looked on the bright side, saying that the tteam had trained together for only three weeks but they showed their hunger and followed his tactics.
Most of the players were not selected by Schaefer because he knew very little about Thai players as the Thai Premier League was taking a mid-season break. The TPL resumes today.
“When we get back to Thailand, I will go to watch a lot of Thai league matches,” he said.
Datsakorn said: “We were under pressure. I am happy that we advanced. Every player played for the team.”
Palestine coach Moussa Bezaz said: “We had several chances to score goals but it was very disappointing that we failed to score more goals. The Thai goalkeeper played very well and denied us several times.”