Southeast Asia

Thailand Back in Contention for Semi-Final Berth With Win Over Singapore

Obb Deewajin

Football Tribe Thailand


Defending champions Thailand continue their SEA Games adventure with a 3-0 win over Singapore on matchday 3, gathering 6 points from possible 9. The Merlion has been somewhat subpar in this tournament but still, put up a good fight against the War Elephants.

Once again, Akira Nishino rotated his starting XI to cope with the contested fixtures. Goalkeeper Nont Muangngam, defensive general Shinnaphat Leeaoh, and left-back Thitathorn Aksornsri were amongst the players who returned to the starting line-up after handed a rest against Brunei. The Thais, sticking to their 4-2-3-1 formation, kicked off with intensity – Supachok Sarachat fielded in the number 10 position, offered great energy behind birthday boy Supachai Jaided. The lanky striker played slightly deeper than usual but that allowed him to link up with Supachok and constantly and opened spaces for right-winger Jaroensak Wonggorn to sprint in behind. And it took only seven minutes for this interchanging movement to punish the Singaporean defense. 

Left-winger Suphanant Mueanta received the ball on the flank, nutmegging a player then gliding past another before cutting back a pass onto the path of the on-rushing Jaroensak who had made his way from the opposite flank to meet the finish. The 17-year-old wondered then produced another piece of magic just 10 minutes later – playing a give-and-go with midfielder Ratthanakorn Maikami to open up space behind the Singapore defense and poke the ball past the goalkeeper. 

Being 2-0 down after 18 minutes urged Fandi Ahmad’s team to adopt a more direct approach. This led to a lot more 2nd ball challenges which result in more tackles flying in. Unfortunately, things didn’t improve for the Reds and the scoreline turned to 3-0 just behind half-time via Thitathorn Aksornsri.

The tackles grew much stronger after the break but the referee was pretty generous and didn’t show as many yellow as he could (and should) have. The Thais slowed down their tempo and concentrated on keeping the scoreline as it is. Striker Ikhsan Fandi, who plays with Norwegian 2nd tier side Raufoss IL, was brought on to inject danger upfront but failed to make an impact. Fandi Ahmad even switched captain Irfan Fandi from center-back to striker – hoping to utilize his aerial ability – to little effect.

Neither side created any real chance in the last 45 and the game ended with a deserved victory to Thailand.