Rain spoils Thailand-Iraq opening Asian Cup clash

In the opening game of the AFC Asian Cup 2007, Thailand held Iraq to a 1-1 draw in Bangkok as the three-week tournament got underway in pouring rain. A tropical downpour two hours before kick-off left the pitch water-logged and delayed the official opening ceremony, which eventually took place in front of a near empty stadium. The rain eased in time for the game but many fans stayed home. A day before the match Asian Football Confederation President Mohamed bin Hammam said he was anticipating a sell-out crowd at the 60,000-capacity ground. Instead less than half that braved the gridlocked Bangkok traffic to make the trek to the Rajamangala National Stadium.

“I’m satisfied with the match because the condition of the pitch made it difficult to control the ball,” Thai coach Chanvit Pholchovin told AFP. Iraq’s Brazilian coach Jorvan Vieira was less happy, believing it was a game his team should have won. “We missed a chance to win. This game was very important,” he said. “Of course, I am disappointed because I thought the game should have been decided in the first half. Nevertheless I am still satisfied because you can’t imagine how many problems we have had to prepare this team for the competition.”