Doha, Qatar – Oman enjoyed the bulk of possession but were held to a goalless draw by Thailand in their Asian Cup Group F tie on Sunday.
The point helped Thailand boost their hopes of advancing to the knockout stage, while Oman are also in contention for progressing into the next round.
The result took Thailand to four points with three-time champions Saudi Arabia their final group stage opponents while Oman will need a convincing win against Kyrgyzstan in their concluding tie and a favourable result from the Thailand-Saudi Arabia match..
Thailand defeated Kyrgyz Republic 2-0 in their opener while Oman suffered a 2-1 defeat to Saudi Arabia.
While Thailand showed slightly more initiative in the early minutes of the game, both teams began the match with a measured approach and avoided too many offensive forays.
The War Elephants had their first chance when a 15th minute corner kick from Teerathon Bunmathan was powerfully headed towards the Oman goal by defender Elias Dolah. However, the attempt was cleared to safety by midfielder Abdullah Fawaz after being initially punched away by goalkeeper Ibrahim Al Mukhaini.
Oman began to find their footing, Issam Al Sabhi receiving Jameel Al Yahmadi’s cross at an opportune position inside the box but had his left-footed shot to the centre of the goal blocked by Thai goalkeeper Siwarak Tedsungneon.
The West Asian side closed the half strongly but couldn’t find a breakthrough as they took the stalemate into the break.
A more determined Thailand side took the field in the second half and there was a window of opportunity opened when Suphanat Mueanta intercepted an overhead cross from Oman’s Arshad Al Alawi and charged forward into the Oman box but was met by the steely figure of defender Ahmed Al Khamisi.
Almost immediately after, Oman skipper Harib Al Saadi tore through the Thai defence but despite warding off as many as four white shirts, had his attempt blocked by the Thai custodian.
The Branko Ivankovic-led Oman came to life as the clock hit the 70th minute and began to pile pressure on the Thai defence line, most notably with Khalid Al Baikri’s free-kick finding Al Sabhi inside the six yard box but his attempt to poke the ball into the Thai net was deftly parried away by the goalkeeper.
Oman’s frustration grew as the minutes ticked away and when the final whistle was blown, it was Thailand who were clearly the happier of the two sides.