Thailand are on the brink of elimination in the 2014 Asian World Cup qualifying after losing 3-0 to Saudi Arabia on Friday.
Following a goalless first-half at the King Fahd International Stadium, Naif Hazazi put the three-time Asian Cup champions 1-0 ahead just before the hour mark.
Ahmed Al Fraidi doubled the lead in the 80th minute and skipper Mohammed Noor sealed the victory from the penalty spot nine minutes later.
Thailand’s disappointing night was compounded deep into stoppage time when Buriram PEA left-back Theerathon Bunmathan was giving his marching orders as the three-time Asean champions dropped into third in the Group D standings having been leapfrogged by the resurgent Saudis.
Frank Rijkaard’s side picked up the first win of their Group D campaign which keeps alive their hopes of progressing to Asia’s final qualifying stage and shatters Thailand’s World Cup dreams.
Thailand will now have to beat Australia in Bangkok on Tuesday to stand any chance of advancing while Saudi Arabia host Oman on the same day.
With the top two teams from each of the five qualifying groups advancing to the next round, Australia and Saudi Arabia will secure Group D’s top two spots if both win on Tuesday.
Asian Cup runners-up Australia could have been first through from Group D but they were stunned 1-0 by Oman in Muscat on Friday in the Aussies’ first defeat of the campaign.
Oman forward Amad Al Hosni scored the only goal of the game as the Socceroos produced a disappointing display, reverting to long ball tactics as they chased the game following the 18th minute strike.
“We definitely didn’t play the way we normally play,” Australia coach Holger Osieck said.
“We lost a game which we normally shouldn’t lose against an opponent who is definitely inferior to us.”
Bangkok Newspaper section: Sports