Thailand earned the honour of Asia’s best-performing team in the group stages of Fifa Futsal World Cup, finishing with a six-point haul to secure the runners-up spot in Group B and a last-16 meeting with Azerbaijan on Friday.
The line-up of the tournament’s last-16 stage was completed yesterday after the final round of Group E and F fixtures, with the Thai side earlier guaranteeing themselves a berth in the first knockout round of the 24-team event for the second consecutive time.
Of the five representatives from the Asian Football Confederation, only 13th-ranked Thailand, Vietnam and Iran made it to the next round, while Australia and Uzbekistan suffered premature exit.
By clinching six points, their record point tally they achieved in the competition since their debut campaign in 2000, the Thais, who were beaten by Russia in the group opener, produced the best performance among the three Asian sides that went through the group phase.
Iran and Vietnam managed only four and three points respectively from three group games and squeezed into the next round as one of the four best thirdplaced teams.
Adisak Benjasiriwan, the chairman of national committee for futsal development, was ecstatic with his side’s run to the last16, which matched their best result in the tournament they achieved four years ago at home. They will next face Azerbaijan, who qualified as the Group F runnersup.
“I’m so proud. I said it before that we have a chance to produce the best result among Asian teams. We eventually did it. I’ve waited for this day for 15 years to see where we are today. I hope to guide our team to become the No 1 side in Asia in future.”