| JAKARTA (4 Dec 2010) – Thailand made life difficult for themselves in the AFF Suzuki Cup when they were held to a 0-0 draw by an under-strength Malaysian side in the second Group A match at the Gelora Bung Karno here today. Thailand, who were surprisingly held by Laos in the opener two days ago, now have two points and must defeat hosts Indonesia in their final preliminary tie on Tuesday if they want to make the cut.
Malaysia, whipped 5-1 by Indonesia two days ago, on the other hand earned themselves a lifeline with the draw today. They now have to beat Laos in two days, and also hope Thailand slip-up, to have a go of making the semifinals. But the draw did not come easy as the Malaysians had to absorb a barrage of strikes from the tireless Thais. The defenders performed well to turn it all away.
Thailand, which almost dominated much of the game, must have had at least 20 shots with one coming off the post, an indication that they were just short of some luck.
“It’s not frustrating any more, it seems like I getting used to watching the team completely dominate, create numerous opportunities and then waste them all. The last 15 minutes especially we had about four good chances including a possible penalty,” said a disappointed Bryan Robson, the Thai head coach. “It was another case of that tonight.”
“I would have liked to have won today but now we have to do things the hard way, it’s going to be a tough task to beat Indonesia at home,” Robson said. He added that his team had done enough in both matches but just did not score.
Thailand as expected fielded their best side, bringing in the talented midfielder Datsakorn Thonglao and Phitchitphong Choeichiu, striker Teerasil Dangda and tough-tackling defenders Natthapong Samana and Nataporn Phanrit. But to Robson’s dismay, the players were just not able to bring out their best. Many of the players are jaded after a long domestic season which only ended on Nov 28.
Realising they had to win, the Thais went on the offensive from the start but failed to finish anything they started. Malaysia too had some chances and could have actually stunned the Thais but Norsharul Idlan Talaha and Mohd Safee Sali missed several good chances. In the dying minutes, S. Kunalan had a brilliant chance to turn hero but his shot swept over the crossbar.
“We knew Thailand would field their best and we knew it would be difficult. To prepare for them, I made three changes including the goalkeeper. I told the boys that they must avoid making mistakes as the back and the defence did well today,” K. Rajagobal said.
“It was a tough first half as they attacked us, but in the second half we had more life and energy. We had some chances and I feel we should have scored earlier. However had scored first would have collected three points.”
On Laos, Rajagobal said they had shown they were no pushovers and expected yet another tough game on Monday.
THAILAND:Sinthaweechai Hathairattanakool (GK), Suree Sukha, Natthapong Samana, Nataporn Phanrit (C), Datsakorn Thonglao (Terdsak Chaiman, 85), Suchao Nutnum, Sarayoot Chaikamdee, Teerasil Dangda, Sutee Suksomkit (Kirati Keawsombut, 77), Phitchitphong Choeichiu, Panupong Wongsa.
MALAYSIA:Khairul Fahmi Che Mat (GK), Mohd Asraruddin Putra, Amar Rohidan, S. Kunalan, Mahalli Jasuli (Mohd Sabree Mat Abu, 66), Mohd Amirulhadi Zainal (Mohd Khyril Muhymeen, 39), Mohammad Muslim Ahmad, Mohamad Fadhli Mohd Shas, Safiq Rahim (C), Norshahrul Idlan Talaha, Mohd Safee Mohd Sali (Mohd Amri Yahyah, 73)