Preview: Thailand vs. Palestine (Olympic Qualifier)
What: AFC 2o12 Olympic Qualifier (1st round/1st leg)
Where: Supachalasai Stadium, Bangkok, Thailand
When: February 23rd, 2011 1100 GMT
TV: Thailand Canal 11, SMMTV, NBT 11 (all available in Thailand)
Mokhtar "The Dinosaur" Al-Talili has announced the starting XI that will face off against Thailand tonight. With a squad short on forwards he was expected to field a defensive line-up and has followed through on those expectations fielding a single forward in a 4-2-3-1 formation:
Toufic Ali (GK); Fayez Aslieh, Mustafa Abu Kweik, Nadim Barghouthi, Salim Darooby; Mohammed Koori, Ahmad Salameh; Ali El-Khatib, Ahmad Mearry; Khaled Salim.
Palestine will probably play a lot of bunker ball and look to hit Thailand on the counter. With the return leg set to be played in the Faisal Al-Husseini Memorial Stadium (the first competitive match to be staged on Palestinian soil) the team will be desperate to keep the tie a two-legged affair.
A 0-0 draw would be huge but it is important to point out that the Thais are no pushovers as proved by their quarterfinal finish at the Guangzhou Asian Games. Thailand won their opening match against Pakistan 6-0 and then went on to collect a 1-1 draw against Oman and a 0-0 draw against the Maldives to finish runner-ups in Group F. In the second round, a goal deep in extra time delivered them a 1-0 victory over Turkmenistan. Their run ended at the hands of eventual champions Japan with a 1-0 quarterfinal loss. Expect a tight match, these teams met at the 2006 Asian Games with Thailand narrowly edging out a 1-0 win over a team that included Bahdari, Keshkesh, Attal, and goalkeeper Mohammed Shbair.