Midfielder Thitiphan Puangjan scored the Thai goal late in the first half after the UAE had taken the lead in the game, played before a clutch of diehard and ecstatic Thai fans at Al Maktoum Stadium in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates on Monday (Jan 14).
The draw put Thailand a solid second in Group A standings, guaranteeing a spot in the final-16 knockout stage of the tournament for the first time since the early 1980s.
The draw with UAE was eight days and an entire world away from the disastrous start for the War Elephants, who lost their first match 4-1 to India.
That led to a cascade of events – the firing of Serbian coach Milovan Rajevac, the appointment of his assistant Sirisak Yodyardthai as interim leader, a victory over Bahrain and now a place in the Asian Cup Final 16.
The Round of 16 begins on Sunday (Jan 20) with Thailand to face either China or South Korea, depending upon the result of their final match on Wednesday evening.
In the other Group A match on Monday night, Bahrain defeated India 1-0, and also advance to the final 16. India, who dealt Thailand a 4-1 defeat in the opening match, were eliminated from the tournament.
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