A Kabaddi match between Thailand and Japan was never going to be one of serious importance to the Indian audience. That is, until the tie itself became the match that would decide the destiny of the playoffs. While Group A has finished with South Korea leading and India qualifying for the semifinals in second position, only Iran have qualified from Group B, leaving Thailand, Japan and Kenya to struggle for the last playoff berth. More significantly, the tie will decide who will play whom in the semi-final.
Even before the tournament could start, it was expected that India will play Iran in the summit clash. That is until the hosts were shocked by the Koreans in the opening game, and a haphazard Iranian team surprisingly fell short against Poland. That’s where the Thailand-Japan tie becomes all the more important.
As it stands, Group B leaders Iran will play India while Korea will play Kenya. However, a win for Thailand will propel them to the top of the group, given that the South East Asian team will be level on points with Iran, but with a better point average. As such, Thailand will face India for a spot in the final, and Korea will play Iran.
However, if Japan wins by more than seven points but less than 33, they will be level on points with Kenya (16), but with an inferior point difference, hence putting Kenya through to the playoffs (India vs Iran, Kenya vs Korea). If Japan on the other hand, wins by a margin greater than 33 points, Japan will proceed to the semi-finals where they will play Korea and India will play Iran.
At the same time, should Japan win by a margin of seven points or less, Thailand will be granted a bonus point and will be equal with Kenya and Japan, but with a greater average to put them in second position.
Indian fans however will hope for an outright Thailand win, since that is the only straight-forward result that will help the hosts avoid meetingIran in the semi-finals and leaving open the possibility of the marquee clash to take place in the final itself.
In terms of the Thailand-Japan game though, experts are predicting a win for the Thai outfit given the team’s form and basic, yet sound playing style. After an opening game loss against Iran, the young Thai team bounced back well to win comprehensively against Poland, Kenya and the United States.
Japan in turn has been deemed comparatively low on strength despite beating the United States and Poland in their first two games. They would go on to lose against Iran and Kenya in their following two encounters.