Saudi Arabia vs Thailand

Education City Stadium is the venue as Saudi Arabia and Thailand lock horns in a top-table Asian Cup Group F six-pointer.

It’s been one hell of a start to the 2023 Asian Cup for Saudi Arabia as victories over Oman and Kyrgyzstan, 2-1 and 2-0, respectively, fired them into the knockout stages with a game to spare. Avoiding defeat against Thailand would secure a top-place finish in Group F, which should be a mere formality, considering the Saudis have won their last three H2Hs ‘to nil.’ Adding to Roberto Mancini’s confidence, his men have gone unbeaten in seven consecutive internationals (W6, D1) since a 3-1 friendly loss to Mali in October 2023, conceding just once in that sequence. Equally significant is the fact the ‘Green Falcons’ have rediscovered their scoring touch, netting precisely two goals in their last three outings.

On the other hand, Thailand are on the verge of reaching the Asian Cup knockouts for the second time in a row after going unbeaten in their opening two Group F matches (W1, D1). Following a clear-cut 2-0 triumph against Kyrgyzstan, the ‘Elephant Warriors’ drew 0-0 against third-placed Oman in round two to lock down a last-16 berth. Holding Saudi Arabia winless in this fixture would be enough to send them through as group runners-up. But even a potential loss wouldn’t be sufficient to crash them out, as they’d still be among the best-ranked third-placed nations. Given Thailand’s disappointing pre-tournament form (W1, D2, L3), head coach Masatada Ishii can’t complain about his team’s spirited performances in the Middle East, especially considering they’ve managed back-to-back clean sheets after conceding in seven internationals beforehand.

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