| HO CHI MINH CITY (30 July 2010) – Australia won their second AFF Under-19 Championship in three years when they beat Thailand 1-0 in the final that was played at the Thong Nhat Stadium – courtesy of a late goal from Eli Babalj nine minutes to the end.
With the score at a stalemate at the half and seemingly heading towards extra-time, Babalj pounced on a poor Thai clearance to give Australia the lead and what in the end turned out to be the winner.
“It will not be a final if it was an easy game,“ said Johannes Versleijen, the chief coach of Australia afterwards.
“And I must say that we were lucky to score the goal late in the game although we are happy to win the championship this year.
“I must thank the AFF, the VFF and also the sponsors for making this tournament possible. It is an important tournament for youth development.“
Playing in their repeat final of 2009 in which the Thais won the penalty shootout, it was Australia who dictated the pace early in the game.
And it did not take them long to test the Thai defence when in the seventh minute, Mathew Leckie nodded in a corner which forced a superb block from Thai keeper Wasan Narsuan.
In the 22nd minute, Australia pushed forward once again but an attempt from Mohamad Mustafa Amini was blocked by an outsretched Mark Birighitti.
The Thais tried to push forward through Ponlachai Honthong and Visarut Naingan but Australia stood firm at the back as the game stood scoreless at the break.
With Thailand’s best chance in the game coming in only in the 63rd minute of play when Pattana Sokjoho broke through, his try narrowly missed the upright.
That failure to score would cost them dearly as in the 81st minute, Wasan’s failure to catch the ball from a cross saw Pittayat Mangkata making a poor clearance which Babalj did not need a second invitation to pounce for the goal.
“We tried to make things hard for Australia but it did not happen,” added Thai chief coach Chalermvud Sangnapol.
“But at least the boys played a hard game and the goal they scored was our mistake.”
In the meantime, South Korea emerged third in the competition when they beat hosts Vietnam 7-6 in sudden death penalty.
The score at the end of regulation was 1-1.
South Korea took the lead in the ninth minute when an attempt from Kim Ryun Do from the right took a deflection from Vietnam defender Phan Luu The Son.
The hosts however fought back in the second half and duly equalised in the 51st minute when captain Ngo Hoang Thinh made good on the hardwork of Nguyen Dinh Bao to score to force the game into penalty.
With both teams converting all five penalties, the game then went into sudden death penalty which South Korea emerged triumphant through Kim Young Nam.
Vietnam’s Le Thai Quang had his try coming off the crossbar instead.
Other than coming in third, South Korea also picked up the award for Fair Play.
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 1AUSTRALIA 4
30 July: SOUTH KOREA 1 (7) VIETNAM 1(6)/ THAILAND 0 AUSTRALIA 1