Thailand faced North Korea at the Patriot Candrabhaga Stadium in Bekasi. With both teams requiring a victory to progress to the next stage, an exciting contest was on the cards.
Issara Sritao made four changes to the team which played Japan, with Sakunchai Saengthopho, Krisawat Kongkot, Korawich Tasa and Thirapak Prueangna making way for Nopphon Lakhonphon, Peerapat Kaminthong, Anusak Jaiphet, and Suphanat Mueanta.
Chol Ri made a couple of changes to the eleven which played Iraq, with Kim Kuk-Jin and Sin Kwang-Sok coming in place of Jang Un-Gwang and Kim Hwi-Hwang.
Group B: Thailand defeat North Korea 2-1
(THA: Sampan Kesi 38', Korawich Tasa 78'; PRK: Kang Kuk-Chol II 45’)
Thailand stuck to their 4-3-3 formation for the entire duration of the match. The War Elephants dominated 62% of the ball possession, finishing off with an incredible 514 completed passes to end with a passing accuracy of 86%. They struck 18 attempts on goal, of which seven were on target. Thailand was also sturdy in defense with 25 clearances.
North Korea switched from a 4-5-1 to a 4-4-2 style with Kang Kuk-Chol II supporting the lone striker upfront. They dominated the high balls, winning 69% of the aerial duels. With 17 attempts on goal, only three found the target, with 13 shots missing the mark. Kim Ju-Song had an outstanding game, with five saves to his credit.
Thailand had an opportunity to go ahead in the third minute, with Ekanit Panya’s strike in a one-on-one situation landing in the arms Kim Ju-Song.
The North Koreans responded immediately with a strike from Yun Min which struck the upright.
Sampan Kesi broke the deadlock after Suphanat Mueanta’s cross went past a lunging Kye Tam to set up a simple finish.
Nopphon Lakhonphon received a yellow card from Syrian referee Hanna Hattab after a hard tackle on Kim Kuk-Jin in the box. Kye Tam stepped up to take the penalty, but his weak right footed shot was saved by a diving Lakhonphon.
Kye Tam came up with a sensational pass from the half-line, which bisected the two defenders to find Kang Kuk-Chol, who finished it with a superb left footed shot.
Thailand’s persistence got finally rewarded when Korawich Tasa pounced on the loose ball after Kim Pom-Hyok failed to clear the ball. His right-footed strike found the bottom right corner past a diving Kim Ju-Song.
Thailand held their nerves till the end to claim an improbable victory to enter the quarter finals. They will be playing Qatar on Sunday, 28th October. North Korea, who needed a draw to progress would be moaning at the missed penalty after ending their campaign in Indonesia.
Group B Standings: Japan 9, Thailand 4, North Korea 3, Iraq 1.