Heroes & Legends - Thailands Finest Hour

Heroes and Legends

Zico is taking a shot
(courtesy of Dale Farrington)

In our first part of our new series, "Heroes & Legends", we like start off and remind at, what can be considered as "Thailand's Finest Hour". It was 14 December of 1998. Asian Games Quarterfinal. Stage, the new Rajamangala Nationalstadium in Bangkok. Opponent, South Korea.

1998 Thailand was the host of the XIII Asian Games. To host the event, the Rajamangala Stadium was build under the response of the Sport Authority of Thailand. The new newly build stadium replaced the old Suphachalasai as the Thai National Stadium. In Group F Thailand faced Oman and Hong Kong. By winning the group, Thailand advanced to the next round. In the quarters, South Korea awaited the brave Thais. Just a few months ago, nearly the same South Korean squad participated the World Cup in France.

About 60.000 spectators came to watch the match and the Rajamangala Stadium was nearly sold out. Until deep into the second half Korea dominated the game. Ten minutes after the break it was on Thai striker Worrawoot Srimaka to leave the field. He rammed his elbow into the body of Park Jin-sub and went off with a straight red card. Down by ten, Thailand was pushed back against the wall. 80 minutes where off the clock, when Thailand eventually surprised Korea by a set piece. Surachai Jirasirichote crossed the ball into the box. Kiatisak "Zico" Senamuang got rid of his defender, caught the ball and finally passed South Koreans goalkeeper Kim Byung-ji. A few minutes after the lead, Thailand was than reduced to nine man on the field. That time it was defender Surachai Jirasirichote. Couple of minutes before he gave the assist to the leading goal for the Thais.

Players are celebrating
(courtesy of Dale Farrington)

He was booked with a second yellow, after he brought down Yoo Sang-chul close to the penalty area. Yoo Sang-chul took the free kick and leveled. Four minutes left into the game, Peter Withe decided to bring on Thawatchai Damrong-Ongtrakul, Tawan Sripan was the man to get off for him. It was Withe's last ace, and it should done its work. It was 1-1 after 90 Minutes and the match went into overtime. According to the rules that time, it was up to a "golden goal" to decide the game. Although the Thai team hung on desperately in the last four minutes. Just a few gave them a chance of surviving the sudden death with just nine players on the pitch.

Just 5 Minutes were played within the first half of extra time,  when Sanor Longsawang was brought down by his opposing player. Sanor went down around 30 meters away from the Goal, close to the touchline. Coach Withe ordered all his man into the box of South Korea. Dusit Chalermsan just tipped and Thawatchai eventually smashed the ball into the net, while leaving the goalkeeper no chance for a save. Incredible scenes followed. The stadium exploded in hysteria. Fans and Stadium went wild and you could think Thailand just won the World Cup. Thailand was upside down. Even minutes later the crowd were still chanting "Thailand, Thailand". It felt like the whole country was chanting from North to South.

Peter Withe after the game, " I told Thawatchai that if we get a free kick within 35 or 40 yards, get onto it and shoot.  What did he do? He get onto it and scored.

Probably that match really was "Thailands Finest Hour" until today. Two days later Thailand faced Kuwait in the Semi-finals and sunk by three goals to nil. In the third-place play-off match Thailand had took on China, and lost by the same result as in the Semis.

For Peter Withe it was the first years as Thailand head coach. 2002 he was released by the FAT. A lot of players from the Asian Games 98, are to be considered as Heroes & Legends nowadays. First of all  Kiatisak "Zico" Senamuang, but also players like Tawan Sripan, Worrawoot Srimaka and Dusit Chalermsan. Today a few of those lads are heavily involved in Thai football.

Goals: 0-1 Kiatisuk Senamuang (80), 1-1 Yoo Sang-chul (86), 1-2 Thawatchai Damrong-Ongtrakul (95)

Red-Yellow: Surachai Jirasirichote (85)

Red: Worrawoot Srimaka (55)

 Rajamangala-Stadion: 60.000

South Koea
(as far as known)
Goalkeeper: Kim Byung-ji, Abwehr: Cho Se-kwon, Sim Jae-won, Lee Ki-hyung, Park Dong-hyuk, Park Jin-sub, Seo Ki-bok, Midfield: Choi Sung-yong, Kim Nam-il, Yoo Sang-chul, Ko Jong-su, Yoon Jung-hwan, Park Byung-joo, Striker: Choi Yong-soo, Lee Dong-gook, An Hyo-yeon, Kim Eun-jung, Sin Byung-ho, Coach: Huh Jung-moo

Thailand (as far as known by full name)
Goalkeeper: Chaiyong Kumpiam, Abwehr: Surachai Jirasirichote, Dusit Chalermsan, Natee Thongsookkaew, Nived O., Sanor Longsawang, Panupong Chimpook, Pattanapong Sripramote, Choketawee Promrut, Midfield: Surachai Jaturapattarapong, Krisada Piandit, Klairung Treejaksung, Thawatchai Damrong-Ongtrakul, Sunai Jaidee, Yuttapong Boonamporn, Striker: Kiatisak Senamuang, Worrawoot Srimaka, Tawan Sripan, Montri P., Jatupong Thongsukh, Vatcharakorn U., Coach: Peter Withe

Below you are able to find a small clip of the game, showing all goals. Unfortunately the qualitity isn't the best. 

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