Ahmedabad [India], Oct. 20 : Thailand beat Japan 37-33 in a thrilling contest to seal their semi final berth as they topped Group A in the ongoing Kabaddi World Cup.
The crowd at TransStadia Arena was enthralled by a super performance by both teams but it was Thailand who held their nerve to edge out Japan.
Thailand captain Khomsan Thongkham scored 10 points to lead his team to a thrilling win. Thailand will now play India in the semi final whereas Republic of Korea will take on Iran in the second semi final.
Japan fought valiantly till the end but Thailand won points at crucial moments to win a tense encounter.
Japan finished fourth with 12 points from five games whereas Thailand topped Group B with 20 points from five games.
Both teams started well with tackle and raid points as the score was level at 2-2 after three minutes.
Japan's defence did a fine job on Thailand star raider Khomsan Thongkham as they sent him to the bench twice as they led 5-2 after five minutes.
Khomsan scored his first point of the match in seventh minute as Thailand leveled the game at 5-5. It was an extremely close contest as both teams exchanged points and it was 7-7 in the 12th minute. Thailand forced a super tackle in the 13th minute to led 10-9. Japan's defence scored two quick points in two minutes as they tied the game at 12-12 after 15 minutes.
With Thailand just reduced to a man. Peeradach Jajantam came up with an unbelievable super tackle to give his team 14-13 lead. Japan inflicted the first all out of the match in the 19th minute to lead 17-14. Khomsan Thongkham responded with a two-point raid to bring Thailand within touching distance as they trailed 16-17 in the 20th minute.
It was all-square at the end of the half as both teams were level at 17-17. Japan scored a tackle point in the 22nd minute to hold a slender one-point lead. Japan led 20-17 after 24 minutes as their defence held strong against the Thai raiders. Thailand's Santi Bunchoet scored with a super raid in the 27th minute, as it was all level at 21-21. Japan forced a super tackle by Kazuhiro Takano in the same minute to lead 23-21. Japan forced two more super tackles in two minutes to open a six-point gap and led 28-22 after 30 minutes.
Japan's defence was in brilliant form as they scored 16 points in 32 minutes as they led 30-24. Thailand mounted a comeback and scored five points in two minutes and forced an all out in the 35th minute to level the match at 32-32.
Thailand took a two-point lead in the 38th minute to lead 34-32 Khomsan Thongkham scored with a two-point raid in the 40th minute to wrap the match as Thailand beat Japan 37-33.