On seeing my difficulty in trying to buy a ticket for the World Cup Qualifying Asian section match between hosts Thailand and Oman, some kindly soul felt pity on me and handed me a free ticket – as long as I supported Thailand of course. This typical act of Thai generosity came after I had walked around the very impressive Rajamangala Stadium in Bangkok twice in a vain attempt to find the ticket booth that every security guard and stadium worker I asked told me was just around the next corner.
It wouldn’t have mattered even if I’d had a ticket, for long queues of people were frustrated in their attempts at stadium entry by the inadequate number of open gates which ensured that we stumbled in with the game already ten minutes old.
By then, the home team were 1-0 down (after 26 seconds actually) and seemed rather lacklustre in their attempts at resurrecting their faltering World Cup campaign. Sluggish in midfield, no penetration from either full-backs (yes, including the Man City signing) and their captain and playmaker, Datsakorn Thonglao, was having a nightmare.
The second half was a much different affair with the home side attacking at every opportunity and Datsakorn proving what everyone had previously told me, that he is indeed a fine player. The Omanis began to defend even deeper and resorted to some spectacular time-wasting and diving that lead to six yellows and a red card. The Thai team peppered the visitors goal and from where I was sitting – about half a kilometre up in the sky – deserved at least a point. Instead they have nothing from two matches and are at the bottom of their group. All is not lost but it will take something special for them to qualify. Bahrain are top with 6, Japan and Oman have 3 and the Thais 0.