| VIENTIANE (12 Dec 2009) – While Thai head coach Steve Darby took responsibility for the team’s early exit from the group stage of the SEA Games, he nevertheless felt that his side should have finished off the Malaysians when they had the chance.
Thailand, the eight-times winner of the SEA Games crown since 1993, were dumped out of a place in the semi-finals of the Vientiane Games when Malaysia rallied to beat them 2-1 in their final Group A match last night.
Several Thai players were in tears immediately after the game as they came to grip with the reality that their current squad has failed to make the semi-finals of the event for the first time since 1973.
“My thought is very much the same as the players, I am very disappointed,” said Darby afterwards.
“We had 81 minutes in control and should have finished them off. We got chances but we could not take them and in the end, we lacked concentration.”
Thailand just needed a draw from their final Group A encounter while for Malaysia, they had to win the game outright.
And following a first half deadlock, Thailand duly took the lead in the 56th minute off a superb free kick from Arthit Sunthornphit.
But the Malaysians staged a remarkable fight back to score the equaliser off Mohd Nashriq Baharom Kunanlan in the 80th minute before Ahmad Fakri Saarani scored deep in injury time for the winner.
“There aren’t any excuses. I’m not blaming any players and I would have picked the same team again,” added Darby.
“The players gave everything. I’m the coach and I don’t blame the players. I’m not going to turn around and say my players let me down, I don’t do that. I take responsibility.
“We were happy for 81 minutes and in the end we were disappointed.”
But Darby paid tribute to the Malaysians for their victory.
“They kept on fighting and you have to admire what they did,” he said.
Group A: Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Timor Leste, Cambodia
Group B: Laos, Myanmar, Singapore, Indonesia
RESULTS AND FIXTURES
2 Dec (Main Stadium): MALAYSIA 11 TIMOR LESTE 0/ THAILAND 1 VIETNAM 1
4 Dec (Chao Anu Vong Stadium): THAILAND 4 CAMBODIA 0/ VIETNAM 4 TIMOR LESTE 0
5 Dec (Main Stadium): SINGAPORE 2 INDONESIA 2/ LAOS 1 MYANMAR 1
6 Dec (Main Stadium): VIETNAM 3 MALAYSIA 1/ TIMOR LESTE CAMBODIA
7 Dec (Chao Anu Vong Stadium): MYANMAR 1 SINGAPORE 2/ INDONESIA 0 LAOS 2
8 Dec (Chao Anu Vong Stadium): TIMOR LESTE 0 THAILAND 9/ CAMBODIA 0 MALAYSIA 4
10 Dec (Main Stadium): MYANMAR 3 INDONESIA 1/ LAOS 0 SINGAPORE 0
11 Dec (Chao Anu Vong Stadium): CAMBODIA 1 VIETNAM 6/ MALAYSIA 2 THAILAND 1
17 Dec: Third/Fourth Placing (1500hrs at Chao Anu Vong Stadium)/ FINAL (1700hrs at Main Stadium)
1. VIETNAM 10pts (+11)
2. MALAYSIA 9pts ( +14)
3. THAILAND 7pts (+12)
4. CAMBODIA 3pts (-10)
5. TIMOR LESTE 0pt (-27)
1. LAOS 5pts (+2)
2. SINGAPORE 5pts (+1)
3. MYANMAR 4pt (+1)
4. INDONESIA 1pt (-4)