Nataporn Phanrit found the net in the final minute of an entertaining match to give Thailand a 3-2 win over Uzbekistan on the opening day of the King’s Cup tournament.
Nataporn popped up inside the area in the 89th minute to score his first goal in four years and secure the points for Thailand, who almost paid the price for squandering a series of clear-cut chances and a two-goal advantage.
In the other game, Abdullah Wisam Zaki brought life to a dour match when he converted a spectacular 64th-minute free kick to give Asian Cup holders Iraq a 1-0 win over North Korea.
Prolific forward Surayuth Chaikamdee scored a first-half brace to put the Thais ahead and take his total to nine goals in five matches.
Farhod Tadjiyev brought Uzbekistan level with two well-taken strikes either side of halftime.
Striker Pibob On-mo, the Thai league’s Most Valuable Player, endured a miserable return to the national side.
He misfired on four occasions, including a spectacular attempt at a diving header where he missed the ball by a yard.
Thai coach Charnwit Polcheewin said the team, weakened by unavailable players and injuries to Manchester City duo Suree Sukha and Teerasil Dangda, had a problem gelling together.
“The teamwork was not very good, we missed so many chances but tactically we were the better side,” he said.
The four teams, all of which have reached round three of 2010 World Cup qualifiers, will play each other in a round-robin format with the top two sides meeting in the final on December 29.