PATHUM THANI (Thailand), ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Cup defending champions Thailand have qualified for the final after beating Malaysia 3-0 in the second leg semifinal match at Thammasat Stadium here Tuesday night.
Thailand overcame the one-goal deficit they picked up during their 0-1 first leg semifinal defeat on Jan 7, outclassing the Malaysian team tonight to secure an overall 3-1 aggregate victory.
The Malaysian team had started strong in their rival’s den, attacking strongly in the first 10 minutes, nearly dominating the match early on, only to see the home team grab the lead through a lovely header by Teerasil Dangda, who beat defenders Sharul Nazeem Zulpakar and Dominic Tan to slot in Thailand’s first goal off an eerily accurate cross from Thai captain Theerathon Bunmathan in the 19th minute.
The goal evidently shook the Malaysian team, and it seemed to have affected their gameplay for the remainder of the match.
The match continued to be a highly contested affair, with coaches from both teams, Thailand’s Alexandre Polking and Malaysia’s Kim Pang Gon being yellow carded by Jordanian referee Adham Mohammad Tumah Makhadmeh in the 29th minute.
Malaysia’s only attempt at Thailand’s goal came in the 36th minute from a header by Darren Lok off a cross by Mohd Nor Hakim Hassan that unfortunately sailed right into the arms of Thai goalkeeper Kampon Phatomakkakul.
Malaysia was still very much in the game in the second half, as they looked for ways to equalise through the introduction of substitutes Lee Tuck and V. Ruventhiran.
But that was not enough to stem the rise of Thailand, and the Malaysians were punished for not marking Bordin Phala well, allowing him to score off a cross by Ekanit Panya in the 55th minute.
A third substitution in the 67th minute, which saw Malaysia’s Muhammad Safawi Rasid replacing Muhammad Fazly Mazlan, failed to stop Thailand from securing their third and final goal of the match, as Adisak Kraisorn pounced on a loose ball to score in the 71st minute, a well-deserved reward for reacting first in the confusion following a shot that rebounded off the left lower corner of Malaysia’s goalpost just seconds earlier.
Faced with the near impossible task of turning things around, the Malaysian team nonetheless played on for the rest of the match, seeking any opportunity to secure the goals that somehow eluded them this time around.
Malaysia’s AFF campaign comes to an end with tonight’s 0-3 defeat, and Thailand, fresh from their 3-1 aggregate semifinal victory, will take on two-time champions Vietnam in the two-legged final on Jan 13 and 16.
Source: Nam News Network