World Cup concentration lapses cost Thailand six points - Kiatisuk

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Head coach Kiatisak Senamuang has urged his Thailand players to maintain their focus for the entire 90 minutes in Tuesday's 2018 AFC World Cup qualifier against Iraq on neutral soil in Tehran.

The Southeast Asian champions have slumped to three losses to begin their final round campaign, including last Thursday's 3-1 away defeat against United Arab Emirates.

But they would fancy their chances of beating the pointless Iraqis, with whom they played out two draws in the second round of qualifying.

Ahead of the Group B game, Kiatisuk said the Thais had a great chance to bounce back in the wake of last Thursday's ultimately disappointing loss in Abu Dhabi.

"We are looking for a win which will give confidence to our players and fans. I am hoping that we will get our first points from this match," Kiatisuk told the Bangkok Post.

"Thailand have not been this far in the World Cup qualifiers for a long time and it is still a learning curve for all of us."

But the former national striker urged his players to maintain concentration over the entire 90 minutes, and not to underestimate their familiar opponents.

"Although, the Iraqis will be without Younis Mahmoud, the presence of Ali Adnan, who plays for for Udinese in Italy, makes them a formidable threat," said Kiatisak.

"The Iraqis have also done well -- they nearly beat Saudi Arabia and Australia and were heading for a draw with the Japanese. It shows that they are tactically better and stronger than before."


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Iraq are coming from a gutsy 2-1 away defeat against Japan last week. The 2007 Asian champions have a young side, with the nucleus coming from some of their successful age-group teams from recent years.

Thailand will be encouraged by their own spirited second-half performance against U.A.E. in which they pulled a goal back after bringing on Sriroch Chatthong and Tana Chanabut as substitutes.

Tana pulled a goal back in the 67th minute to give them a glimpse of hope before U.A.E.'s third strike in injury time by Ahmed Khalil killed off the contest.

In Saitama, the Iraqis had stunned Japan with Saad Abdul-Amir's 60th minute equaliser before the Samurai Blue grabbed all three points through Hotaru Yamguchi's 95th minute pile-driver.

It doesn't get any easier for the Thais next month when they play Asian champions Australia in Bangkok on Nov. 15 in their final qualifier of the year.