Thailand are hitting their stride at the 2018 AFF Cup, with their second victory in the competition coming at the expense of Indonesia. This 2016 final rematch was always bound to be a classic, as the Garuda travelled to Bangkok desperately in need of points.
The visitors opened the scoring when midfielder Zulfandi managed to bend a ferocious shot beyond the outstretched arm of Siwarak Tudsuengnoen from a fair distance out. The goal came as a surprise to a crowd of over 35,000 packed inside the Rajamangala Stadium.
However, Thailand didn’t take long to level the scoring, as left-back Korrakot Wiriyaudomsiri managed to bend an excellent strike into the back of the net directly from a corner. In the mass confusion caused in the box, the Buriram star’s shot managed to evade everyone and cannon in off the far post.
The War Elephants then managed to get themselves ahead during first-half stoppage time, with Korrakot’s Buriram teammate Pansa Hemviboon also profiting from a calamitous attempt to deal with a set-piece, making it 2-1 to the home side.
Things were set to get even better for Thailand, as Adisak Kraisorn soon doubled their lead, deftly receiving a pass from Thitipan Puangchan before breaking away from Indonesia’s defence with an intelligent turn and firing the ball past Awan Setho and in to the back of the net.
Thailand wrapped up the game in the 74th minute, when Bangkok United teammates Sanrawat Dechmitr and Pokklaw Anan combined to catch Indonesia on the break. The latter announced his return to the National Team after an extended period of absence by sprinting through on goal and dinking the ball over Awan Setho from well outside the box, catching the Indonesian keeper off his line.
A late consolation goal from Fachrudin Aryanto did little to change the final result. The War Elephants continue their charge, leaving Indonesia to lick their wounds and prepare for an uphill battle to reach the knockout stages.
Obb Deewajin, Football Tribe Thailand: The home side started very sluggishly and were finding it tough to break through Indonesia’s deep defensive shape. However the visitors’ goal seems to wake Thailand up, with war elephant scoring twice before halftime. Milovan Rajevac’s decision to bring on midfielder Pokklaw Anan, switching to a 4-4-2 diamond formation, was spot on as it allowed Thailand to overrun the visitors in the middle of the park. Sanrawat, Thitipan and Korrakot were the three stand out performers. However, on a less positive note, keeper Siwarak Tedsungnoen had an off day, and he must get back to his normal self quickly if he wants to retain the number one spot. Plus, a slight injury to Tanaboon Kesarat is a worry which Thai fans must keep an eye on.
Steven Danis, Football Tribe Indonesia: I was very entertained by all of the goals, some which were scored beautifully. Forget the two matches before – this is Indonesia’s best starting-eleven, which showed an ambition to win this AFF Cup. However, the controversial decision choose Awan Setho over Andritany in goal didn’t work as the coach wanted it to. Thailand were more clever than us, and we were still giving Beto and Dedik long passes to cut-inside into penalty box, even when we already knew that it would always be intefcepted by Thailand’s defence.