| VIENTIANE (11 Dec 2009) – Defending champions Thailand gained the upper hand to defend their women’s football crown following their 2-2 draw against Vietnam in their crucial round-robin match at the National University Stadium this afternoon.
The Thais went into the game knowing that they need at least a point to make sure that they can win a place in the final for the chance to successfully defend the crown they won two years ago in Korat.
But they could not have started on a worst note than when they conceded the first goal off Vietnam’s Nguyen Thi Muon in the fourth minute.
Thailand fought back with several chances created by the pair of Pitsamai Sornsai and Supaphon Kaeobaen but none came to fruition.
And just when things were going forward, Thailand were punished again for the second time in the afternoon when Van Thi Thanh scored the second goal for Vietnam.
Four minutes to the end of the first half, Thailand gained a respite when Nguyen Ngoc Anh conceded an own goal as they re-arranged their strategy for the second half.
The Thais were a lot more composed at the back after the break and with Vietnam sitting back on their lead, they found the space and time to score the equalising goal two minutes to the end from Sukunya Peangthem.
The draw gave Thailand eight points from four matches while Vietnam have picked up five points from three matches.
Vietnam’s last game on December 13 will be against hosts Laos with both teams having a shot at winning the remaining slot in the final.
In the meantime hosts Laos beat Malaysia 5-0 in the other match of the afternoon.
Malaysia, whose appearance at the SEA Games will be their last international for at least until the next year following the ban by their national body, put up some tough resistance to hold hosts Laos to a scoreless draw in the first half .
But the break gave the Laotian girls the chance to regroup and they duly changed their tactics by switching to the flanks before scoring their first goal just two minutes after the restart when Souphavanh Phayvanh slammed home from close range.
The Malaysian girls tried to harried the Laos midfield but it backfired when they fell further behind with two quick goals from Sochitta Phonhalath with strikes in the 60th minute when she fired from long range and then in the 68th minute off a one-two situation.
Souphavanh then scored her second goal of the afternoon in the 74th minute making good use of a through pass from Dalaphone Manylath as Khouanhta Syhanovoung then scored the fifth and final goal seven minutes to the end.
The win for Laos moved them to third in the standing behind current leader Thailand, who have completed their four matches in the round robin match, and second-placed Vietnam, who have played a match less.
Both Thailand and Vietnam are on the same seven points.
Laos, with four points from three matches, will complete their round robin fixtures against Vietnam in two days and where they will have to beat the latter by a big margin if they want to lift the women’s football on home soil.
1. Thailand 8pts (+17)
2. Vietnam 5pts (+8)
3. Laos 4pts (+2)
4. Myanmar 3pts (=)
5. Malaysia 0pt (-27)