2016 Kabaddi World Cup :: Road to the semis: Thongkham leads Thailand to top of Group B - Features

Road to the semis: Thongkham leads Thailand to top of Group B

20 October 2016

Thailand became the surprise leaders of Group B just ahead of hot favourites Iran in the 2016 Kabaddi World Cup. Their only loss came in their opener against the Iranians but they didn’t let that affect them negatively and won their remaining four games. Captain Khomsan Thongkham has been inspirational, topping the raid points charts with 53. Tin Phonchoo, Khunakon Chanjaroen and Santi Bunchoet have been the other notable performers for the Thais.

Before they go into their semi-final game against India on October 21, we take a look at their journey in the tournament so far:

The Iran beating

Thailand began their campaign on a disastrous note, going down to Iran by a 23-64 margin. Going by this start, it would have been unthinkable that time to say that the Thais would end up topping their group.

Polishing off Poland

The loss against Iran did, in no way, demoralise the Thais as they came back with a vengeance. Chanjaroen was the star as Poland were crushed in tremendous fashion as Thailand opened their account with a 65-25 win.

Mauling Kenya

Kenya looked formidable going into the match improving greatly after running Iran close, prompting many to favour them ahead of the more experienced Thai side. The Asians shot aside those suggestions as they made a statement with a thumping 53-21 victory.

Domination of USA

As was expected of them, Thailand made mincemeat of the United States of America. They were untroubled throughout in notching up a 69-22 win in what was a display of pure dominance.

Thriller against Japan

Thailand went into the game needing only a point to progress to the last four. They remained within touching distance of a fired-up Japan who needed a big win to qualify. Instead of trying to get just that point by not going down to Japan by more than seven points and avoid India, they went for the win downing Japan 37-33 in a tense, tactical battle.

Thongkham and his men showed bravery in not trying to avoid a clash with India as they easily could have against Japan. They have been compact defensively and are equally adept at raiding. It will be a challenge of the highest order against the powerful hosts and Thailand will have to play the match of their lives to get past them.