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Thailand beat Kyrgyzstan to kick off Asian Cup campaign

DOHA (Bernama-Xinhua) — Supachai Chaided scored in each half to help Thailand secure a 2-0 victory over Kyrgyzstan at the AFC Asian Cup on Tuesday, marking the end of the first round of group matches, reported Xinhua. 

Thailand, delivering a dominant performance to win their opening Group F match, became the first Southeast Asian team to clinch three points at the tournament so far. This came after Indonesia, Malaysia, and Vietnam had suffered defeats.

Bordin Phala cut inside before unleashing a curling grounder, which Kyrgyzstan goalkeeper Erzhan Tokotaev parried into the path of Supachai, who then converted a rebound in the 26th minute to establish the 1-0 lead.

Thailand’s goalkeeper Patiwat Khammai (top) makes a save during the Group F match between Thailand and Kyrgyzstan at AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023 in Doha, Qatar, Jan. 16, 2024. PHOTO: XINHUA

Supachai, the 25-year-old forward, netted his second goal three minutes after the interval with another tap-in as Kyrgyzstan struggled to deal with a cross.

Thailand, which reached the knockout stage for the first time in the 2019 edition of the tournament, now leads Group F with three points, alongside Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia clinched a dramatic 2-1 comeback victory over Oman on Tuesday night.

Roberto Mancini’s side was favoured to win the tournament in Doha, but Oman played compact and well organised, relying on solid defence and quick counterattacks.

Salaah Al Yahyaei converted a penalty awarded after a VAR review, putting Oman in front after 14 minutes.

Saudi Arabia, three-time champions of the Asian Cup, equalised in the 78th minute when Abdulrahman Ghareeb dribbled past three Oman defenders and tucked the ball into the back of the net.

The last-gasp winner came in the sixth minute of injury time as Ali Al Bulayhi scored with a close-range header, which was initially disallowed for offside but later awarded after a VAR review.

A total of 24 teams are competing in six groups at the Asian Cup, which runs from Jan 12 to Feb 10.

Six group winners and runners-up will advance to the knockout stage, along with the four best third-placed teams.