January 2, 2024
BANGKOK – The War Elephants’ first game under Masatada Ishii, who took over from Mano Pölking in November, showed the new coach has a tough task ahead.
The first half ended all square despite the Samurai Blue dominating play. Japan took the lead five minutes into the second half when a blocked shot fell to Ao Tanaka, who slotted home. In the 72nd minute, the floodgates opened as Thailand were hit by three goals within 10 minutes. Takumi Minamino’s attempt was blocked by Thailand keeper Patiwat Khammai but Nakamura Keito tapped home to make the score 2-0.
Thai defender Elias Dolah then scored an own goal from Tang Anlu’s corner kick in the 74th minute.
In the 82nd minute, Takumu Kawamura header from a cross was saved but he headed home the rebound to make it 4-0.
Former Liverpool striker Minamino capped a lively display by slotting home in extra time to complete the crushing 5-0 victory.
In a post-match interview, Ishii said that the Thai players had gained valuable experience against the Japanese, adding that the match illustrated the gap in quality between the two sides. He said he would use what he learned from the friendly to improve the Thai squad.
Japan are the No 1 team in Asia and rank 17th in the FIFA world rankings. Thailand rank 21st in Asia and 113th in the world.
The War Elephants will take on Kyrgyzstan in the 2023 AFC Asian Cup on January 16.