By Danny Knobler
Thailand will play the United Arab Emirates, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Indonesia in the second round of Asian qualifying for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. The first game will be Sept. 5, with this round running through June 9, 2020.
The Thai men’s team has never made it to the World Cup, while the Thai women’s team has qualified in each of the last two cycles. The men’s team made it through this round in the last cycle but didn’t come close to getting through the final qualifying round.
Thailand will play home-and-home with the other four teams in Group G. The eight group winners and the four best second-place teams will move ahead to the final round, and will also qualify for the 2023 Asian Cup in China.
Group G figures to be competitive, with none of Asia’s top teams but also no walkover games. UAE is the highest-ranked team in the group, at 67th in the world and sixth among Asian teams. Thailand is 116th in the latest world rankings, behind Vietnam (96) but ahead of Malaysia (159) and Indonesia (160).
Thailand drew 1-1 with UAE at the Asian Cup in January and lost to Malaysia on the away goals rule in the semifinals of the 2018 AFF Suzuki Cup.
Thailand’s home games are normally played at Rajamangala Stadium, which is in Hua Mak, in the eastern part of Metropolitan Bangkok, just off the Bangkok-Chonburi motorway and about 140 km from central Pattaya. The exact schedule for the qualifiers will be announced at a later time.
The 28th annual Pattaya Marathon will be run this Sunday, July 21, on a course that begins on Walking Street and goes along the beach and eventually to Jomtien Beach and back. The marathon has become a huge event, with 15,000 entrants last year and with 1.1 million baht in total prize money.
Because of the heat, the marathon begins at 3:30 a.m.
Danny Knobler has covered sports in the United States for 40 years, writing for Bleacher Report, CBSSports.com, ESPN.com, and many other websites and publications. You can find him now at Danny’s Sports Bar on Soi Made In Thailand in Pattaya, where you can watch live and taped sporting events from anywhere in the world.