| PHNOM PENH (August 25, 2007) – Thailand made the semi-finals of the Asean Football Federation (AFF) Under-17 Championship this year when they beat Malaysia 3-1 in the crucial match in Group A here at the National Olympic Stadium.
With the score standing at 1-0 in favour of Malaysia, the Thais struck three times after the break for the well-deserved win over their close nemesis.
“The win today has allowed us to play in the semi-finals of the competition,” said Thailand head coach Prayoung Khunan.
“We played better today than we did in the last match although I would have to admit that we were a bit lucky to win over Malaysia.”
Thailand started the match on an earnest note with Anusak Laosangthai testing Malaysian custodian Muhammad Sukiri Mohd Rahim early in the first minute.
Malaysia was left to do much of the defending in the opening half hour and with Ratchapark Duangfa taking too long a time to make good on the chance that he created; it gave the impetus for the Malaysians to go ahead.
In the 32nd minute, D. Saarvindran rifled in from 20metre out in the 32nd minute for Malaysia to go into the break on a confident mood.
But the second half proved to be different where at the hour mark, Anusak slammed home after picking up a pass from Sarach Yooyen for the equaliser before Vuttipong Paenchum gave the Thais their first lead in the game in the 77th minute.
In front of more than 24,000 in attendance at the National Olympic Stadium, Thailand made sure of their win this evening with Anusak heading in a cross from Seksit Srisai ten minutes to the end.
“Things did not work out for us today,” said Malaysia head coach Aminuddin Hussin.
“Some of the players were not playing and while we tried to change things, it was just not working out.”
IN THE MEANTIME, in a later match, hosts Cambodia beat Brunei 2-0 to set-up a mouth-watering encounter against Malaysia in the final group match in two days to decide who are deserving to go through into the next round.
Supported by a vociferous 40,000 fans, Brunei held fast to deny the home teams to only two goals in the first half and none after the break.
“We scored two goals and we won the three points – that is more important than how many goals we could have scored against Brunei,” said Cambodia head coach Prak Sovannara.
“Our preparation is to win against Malaysia which is more important and which could well decide our place in the semi-finals. If we beat Malaysia and then Thailand also beat Indonesia, then we are through to the next round.
“Then it really does not matter how many goals we scored today.”
Cambodia’s goals were scored by Oum Kumpheak in the 18th minute and Soun Makara in the 24th minute.
“The team has improved from game to game and this week, we played against some of the big teams in Asean,” said Brunei head coach Kuon Soon Oh.
“What’s important is that we pick up the lessons from here and move on.”
GROUP A STANDING
1. THAILAND 9pts (+6); 2. INDONESIA 5pts (+3); 3. MALAYSIA 4pts (+5); 4. CAMBODIA 4pts (+1); 5. BRUNEI 0pt (-15)
PIC: MALAYSIA (in blue) against THAILAND (in red)