ABU DHABI // Thailand maintained their 100 per cent record at the Challenge Cup of Asia with another convincing performance on Tuesday. A third successive victory on the ice at the Abu Dhabi rink was achieved with a 5-3 win over battling Mongolia, a result that ensures they won Group A. But rather than resting on their laurels and congratulating themselves on their success, the Thais were already thinking about the final stages, with the semi-finals today, and hoping they will not have to face the tournament favourites and hosts, the UAE until Friday night's final.
Their captain Tewin Chartsuwan said: "It was very important for us to finish on top of the point standings. "The UAE seems the stronger and, given a choice, we would like to avoid them in the semis. "We have done pretty well so far and are now at the business end of the competition. It's going to be really tough from here." Juntapout Tengsakul opened the scoring in the seventh minutes for the Thais, and Teerasak Rattanachot, who was later named the MVP of his side, doubled the lead three minutes later for a 2-0 advantage at the first break. Nitat Thammasit added a third half way in the second period and it seemed to be game, set and match to Thailand at that stage.
But the Mongolians hit back by scoring two goals within three minutes through Purev Ochive and Chuluunzorig. Rattanachot was quick to extend the lead with a second goal, and Pasit Jirachai took them to safety with a fifth. And Mishigsuren scored a consolation goal two minutes from time. The UAE were playing Hong Kong in Tuesday night's late game to decide the Group B placings. The UAE had rallied from a goal down to get the better of Singapore 4-2 in Monday night's late game.
Hans Chen gave the Singaporeans a surprise lead, before Rashid al Dhaheri restored parity in the opening minute of the second period followed by goals from Juma al Dhaheri and Suhail al Muhairi. Iggi Ng closed the gap in the third period before Omar al Shamsi sealed the UAE's win. India created a piece of history by scoring their first international goal even as they went down 10-1 to Malaysia in Group A, after Singapore had overcome Macau 6-1 earlier.