Football Tribe SEA Editor
Thailand’s hopes of qualifying for the semi-finals of the 2019 SEA Games semi-finals are left hanging by a thread after their 2-0 win over Laos was overshadowed by Indonesia’s emphatic 8 goal win over Brunei.
The War Elephants needed an emphatic win to keep themselves in contention after they opened the campaign with a disastrous 2-0 loss against Indonesia. Comfortable wins over Singapore and Brunei still left the side on edge.
Going into the penultimate matchday, Thailand knew that they would have to beat Vietnam on the final day, who are yet to lose to Southeast Asian opposition under coach Park Hang-Seo, even to have a chance of pipping Indonesia to the next round on goal difference.
The pressure was on in the pouring rain at the Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila, as Thailand needed not just a win, but an emphatic one to keep themselves in contention. Shortly after the U19’s failed to even qualify for the AFC Championships, the U23’s felt even stronger the need to restore Thai fans’ faith in the new generation.
Unfortunately, the young War Elephants couldn’t find the net until the 90th minute, when the youngest of them all Suphanat Mueanta continued his remarkable showing in the Philippines with a fantastic lobbed goal into the back of the net. The Buriram wonderkid added a second in the dying minutes of stoppage time, but ultimately it left Thailand with a comparatively low +10 goal difference.
Akira Nishino’s men were left watching in horror as Indonesia surpassed their tally in style with an 8-0 demolition of Brunei, going one better than the score Thailand managed against the tiny nation. That win carried Indonesia’s tally to +11, putting them in pole position to follow Vietnam into the next round.
Elsewhere, the group leaders managed a narrow 1-0 win over Singapore, with striker Ha Duc Chinh coming to their rescue just five minutes from time.
In order for Thailand to qualify, they will need to hope that Indonesia loses to Laos on the final day, or beat Vietnam by a margin of more than two goals – both of which seem admittedly unlikely.