Football Tribe SEA Editor
A major mishap in Thailand’s defense allowed Vietnam to run out as victors with a stoppage-time goal in a fiesty 2019 King’s Cup clash at the Chang Arena in Buriram.
Thailand lined up without stars such as Chanathip Songkrasin and Teerasil Dangda, both due to fitness issues. Filling in were Buriram based youngsters Supachai Jaided and Supachok Sarachart, looking to make an impression on their home turf.
Meanwhile for Vietnam, Nguyen Cong Phuong was left on the bench, while Tran Dinh Trong didn’t make the squad after an injury he suffered in recent domestic football action for Hanoi FC.
Neither team was able to find their rhythm in the opening minutes, as Vietnam pressed their hosts aggressively up top, while neither side came out a clear winner in the numerous 50-50 midfield battles.
Thailand’s clearest chance from open play came when Supachai Jaided managed to muscle off Vietnamese defender Que Ngoc Hai on the turn and fire a shot which cannoned off the post.
Almost in response, Vietnam continued to pick up the intensity, hoping to overrun Thailand’s midfield and catch their defense out during their attempts to play from the back. The War Elephants’ defense stood strong off the ball but looked unconvincing in possession, as the two teams went into the break scoreless.
The War Elephants came close to taking the lead just three minutes shy of the hour mark when an intelligent delivery caused havoc in the box. However, the visitor’s resolute defense was able to clear the ball yet again, adding to the sense of frustration bubbling up in the Chang Arena.
Tensions boiled over when a brawl between the players broke out shortly before the hour mark. Vietnam’s Doan Van Hau ended up on the floor after an alleged slap by Thitipan Puangchan. Neither player received any punishment from the referee, and the game resumed with a full complement of players despite the mounting tensions.
Thailand thought they had the lead in the 69rh minute when Theerathon Bunmathan’s inswinging free-kick beat everyone and nestled in the far corner, sending the home supporters into delirium. However, a foul in the box led the referee to disallow the hosts’ goal, inciting further rage amongst the home supporters.
A penalty shout for the hosts just moments later was ignored by the referee, and a rough challenge by Tristan Do resulting in a yellow card threated to spark another fight.
Vietnamese star talent Quang Hai, who had been quiet for most of the second half, came close to finding the far corner with his first time effort, which eventually skidded inches wide. The game remained goalless heading into the final ten minutes.
The home fans were finally given something to cheer about when 16-year-old Buriram United youngster Suphanat Mueanta was given his international debut, coming on as a substitute for club teammate Supachai Jaided.
However, those cheers would turn out to be short-lived as Vietnam appeared to swing the momentum in their favor, pushing forward as four minutes of stoppage time were declared by the referee. With their last attempt of the game, Nguyen Anh Duc managed to get on the end of Buriram midfielder Luong Xuan Trong’s corner and power a header towards goal. Goalkeeper Kawin’s failure to catch the ball or tip it over the bar allowed it to dip back below the crossbar, and Tristan Do similarly was unable to clear the ball off the line.
The unexpected goal sent the visiting fans into delirium, as the Thai players stared in disbelief at their fate. In a game where neither side can claim to have done well, the visitor’s persistence and tenacity managed to inch them over the line, albeit with big help from the miscommunication and disorganization of Thailand’s defense.