Football Tribe Thailand
Thailand’s hopes of collecting four straight SEA Games gold end with a 2-2 draw with Vietnam which sees the War Elephant finished 3rd of Group B.
Akira Nishino handed Supachok Sarachat the captain’s armband in place of the suspended Shinnaphat Leeaoh. Surrounding Supachok in the number 10 position was left-winger Suphanant Mueanta, Anon Amornlerdsak to the right and Supachai Jaided up top.
Park Hang-seo fielded a 5-4-1 formation but injury to talisman Nguyen Quang Hai was a massive loss.
Needing to win with +2 goal difference in order to make it out of the group forced Thailand to adopt an attacking approach and took the lead in the 5th minute. Goalkeeper Nguyen Van Toan’s horrendous attempt to clear Doan Van Hau’s back pass bounced off Supachai Jaided into the empty net.
Moments later, wonder boy Suphanant Mueanta doubled the lead with his fifth goal of the tournament. Anon Amornlerdsak setting the 17-year-old attacker free with a neat lobbed pass. Van Toan blocked the initial shot but powerless to stop Suphanant’s rebound.
The second goal seemed to wake the Golden Dragons and their fullbacks start pushing much further forward. Left-back Do Thanh Thinh received the past with acres of space and delivered a delicious cross on to the path of Nguyen Tien Linh. The striker, who just netted the winner against UAE for the senior squad, created space for himself with a smart movement to escape behind his marker.
Tien Linh’s goal destroyed the Thais tempo and Park Hang-seo’s decision to throw on another striker increased their numbers upfront to help close down the ball.
However, the biggest turning point in this match was when referee Ismaeel Habib Ali Ismaeel awarded Vietnam the penalty in the 68th minute – a soft call from a Thai perspective.
Nont Muangngam dived the right way to denied Huynh Tan Sinh’s shot but the linesman adjudged that the keeper has left his line early and ordered the penalty to be retaken. This time Tien Linh, the player who won the penalty, drilled in a powerful low-shot. Vietnam had clawed back from two goals down.
Nishino sent on forward Sittichok Paso and midfielder Worachit Kanitsribampen but they were unable to make the difference. The match finished 2-2, and as Indonesia beat Laos 4-0, Vietnam and Indonesia went through to the next round.