VIENTIANE (2 June 2012) – Hosts Laos had the solitary strike from Armysay Kettavong in the second half to thank for their close 1-0 win over Thailand as they took the surprise lead in the AFF Under-16 Preparatory Tournament this evening at the Laos National Stadium.
With Australia holding Japan to a 1-1 draw in the first game of the tournament earlier, the win for Laos gave them the full points to take the top spot at the table at the end of the first match day.
The game between Laos and Thailand is always expected to be close.
At the last AFF meet at the same venue last year, Laos could only hold Thailand to a 1-1 draw in the group match before losing 1-0 in the final.
But this time round, the Laotian were more determined and buoyed by the attendance of more than 3,000 fans, they pressed hard and kept the Thais at bay. In the tenth minute, Thanin Phanthavong tested Thai custodian Apirak Worawong with a dipping shot that narrowly missed the crossbar.
Thailand replied with a well-played combination but the playback from Thitipong Yakhampin in the 25th minute could not find a better finish than a well over the goal attempt from Phumin Kaewta.
The score at the end of the first half was 0-0.
Han Hyong Il, the chief coach of Laos
But Laos were not giving up and with Laos Football Federation (LFF) president Viphet Sihachakr and general secretary Xaybandith Rasphone watching from the stands, they finally nailed the opening goal on 59 minute.
Off a cross from Sisawad Dalavong from the right, Armysay headed the ball in past well beyond the reach of Apirak for the lead.
Thailand then introduced Phicha Utara to add more bite in the flank and while they managed to make some inroads, they just could not get the better of the Laotian defence that was marshaled by captain Sonevilay Sihavong.
AFF UNDER-16 PREPARATORY TOURNAMENT 2012
(All matches at the Lao National Stadium, KM16)
2 June 2012: AUSTRALIA 1 JAPAN 1 / THAILAND 0 LAOS 1
4 June 2012: Japan vs Thailand (1600) / Laos vs Australia (1900)
6 June 2012: Australia vs Thailand (1600) / Japan vs Laos (1900)
8 June 2012: 3rd position vs 4th position (1600) / Winner vs Runner-up (1900)