| HO CHI MINH CITY (28 July 2010) – Australia will take on defending champions Thailand in the final of the AFF Under-19 Championship 2010 in two days – making it their third final in three years.
And this time round, the Australians will be out for revenge after losing to the Thais through penalties at the same venue in 2009.
In 2008, Australia were the champions when they beat South Korea in the final in Bangkok.
In the final round-robin game today, Australia went on a rampage in the second game of the evening – destroying hosts Vietnam 4-1 for them to win the group stage and sent the homesters to the bottom of the table.
Thailand held South Korea to a scoreless draw for them to emerge second at the table as the latter finished third.
“We will be out for revenge in the final,” said Australia chief coach Johannes Versleijen at the post match press conference.
“It is our third final and today against Vietnam, we rested several of our regular players in anticipation of the match against Thailand (in two days).
“We already knew the results between Thailand and Korea which meant that we were a bit more relaxed playing against Vietnam. And after scoring the early goal, we knew that the game was already ours.”
Australia started strongly enough when Mohammad Mustafa Amini chested down the ball from the centre of the park before slotting home to the far post for their first goal in the game.
In the 14t minute, Australia went further in front when off a cross from Sam Gallagher, Mathew Leckie nodded the ball home as they then rounded the first half with the fourth goal of the game through Benjamin Halloran.
With Vietnam needing to win the game for them to have the chance to play in the final, they finally woke up in the 56th minute of play when a defensive mistake allowed Nguyen Van Thanh to score.
But that was to be their only revival as Australia then restored their three-goal advantage when Ryan Marc Edwards ran down the right flank for an inch perfect cross that was headed in by the lanky Eli Babalj.
In the meantime, in the match that could have gone either way, neither Thailand nor South Korea showed the determination to warrant the full points as they battled to a scoreless stalemate.
The heavy downpour just before the start of the game certainly did not help things as both teams struggled to show any real domination at the centre of the park.
Chances were few in between with South Korea perhaps having the better effort although the free header from Lee Jong Ho early in the first half could have seen a better finish.
And while Thailand were just glad to be in their second final in two years, chief coach Chalermvud Sangnapol realised that they will have their work cut out for them to retain the crown.
“It will be tough as always playing against a physical team like Australia but we are ready,” he said.
“For me, the more important thing is for the players to show quality instead of just aiming to win the title.”
RESULTS and FIXTURES
24 July: AUSTRALIA 1 SOUTH KOREA 0/ VIETNAM 1 THAILAND 1
26 July: THAILAND 1 AUSTRALIA 1/ SOUTH KOREA 1 VIETNAM 1
28 July: SOUTH KOREA 0 THAILAND 0/ VIETNAM 1 AUSTRALIA 4
30 July: South Korea vs. Vietnam (1600hrs)/ Thailand vs. Australia (1830hrs)
FINAL ROUND ROBIN STANDINGS
1. Australia 7pts (+4)
2. Thailand 3pts (=)
3. South Korea 2pts (-1)
4. Vietnam 2pts (-3)