(Adds quotes, details)
By Martin Petty
BANGKOK, Nov 15 (Reuters) - Brett Holman headed home a
late winner to send Australia into the next round of Asia's
World Cup qualifying on Tuesday, snatching a 1-0 victory that
put Thailand in real danger of missing the 2014 finals in
Holman converted a Brett Emerton cross from close range 14
minutes from time to win Group D with an uninspiring victory
over a Thai side that battled to stay in the competition but
paid a heavy price for missed chances.
Australia struggled in the Bangkok heat in front of a packed
and hostile crowd and a team that stifled their attempts to
control the game.
Diminutive Thai keeper Sinthaweechai Hathairattanakool was
in fine form and was unlucky to finally be beaten, venturing far
off his line to collect a shower of Emerton crosses and keep
lofty striker Joshua Kennedy at bay.
Australia have 12 points with one match left to play, ahead
of Saudi Arabia who meet Oman later on Tuesday.
"It was a hard-fought victory against a very organised team
that prepared well," Australia coach Holger Osieck told
reporters. "We knew what to expect and we persevered in what was
a very tough game."
With three defeats from five games, Thailand were left
hoping the Saudis draw later and the last round of matches go
their way so they can grab second spot and advance to the final
"It was just one mistake and they scored," Thai coach
Winfried Schaefer said. "We lacked that killer instinct."
Datsakorn Thonglao directed most of the Thai attacks,
floating the ball out to the wings and to feed pacy winger Suree
Sukha, who could have scored twice.
Australia were without the injured Harry Kewell and Kennedy
proved largely ineffective, spurning a chance in the 28th minute
when he bent down low to nod an Emerton cross into the hands of
Suree almost broke the deadlock for Thailand in the 35th
minute, latching on to a perfect lofted ball from Datsakorn but
blasting over the bar from six metres with only keeper Mark
Schwarzer to beat.
Australia came out fighting after the break, with Kennedy
squandering a chance on 55 minutes. Their moves on goal finally
paid off when Holman took advantage of a slack defence to clinch
Osieck commended his players but turned prickly when asked
if the victory was fortunate.
"I want to know why you say fortunate," he snapped at an
Australian reporter. "They missed their chances and we played
well enough to win."
(Editing by Mark Meadows)
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