Thailand’s dreams of winning their first King’s Cup since 2017 ended in sheer heartbreak after the Changsuek were beaten on penalties by a resolute Malaysia side on Thursday night.
The King’s Cup was an annual tournament held by the Football Association of Thailand that sees the Thailand national team take on opponents from different parts of the world. Other than the hosts, three other teams also participated in the tournament, with this year’s edition – held at the 700th Anniversary Stadium in Chiangmai – featuring Thailand’s ASEAN rivals Malaysia, the Tajikistan national team, and the Trinidad and Tobago national team.
Thursday’s early kick-off saw Trinidad and Tobago – the highest ranked side in this year’s tournament – being beaten 2-1 by Tajikistan thanks to goals from Mukhammadzhon Rakhimov and Ehson Panjshanbe. The Tajiks went down in the first half after former NEROCA FC man Judah Garcia gave the Trinidadeans the lead in the 27th minute, before FC Istiklol midfielder Rakhimov equalized in the 47th minute and Zob Ahan’s Panjshanbe scored the winner in the 75th minute.
This sets the stage for the late kick-off between Thailand and Malaysia, with the two ASEAN nations rekindling their rivalry on the pitch of the 700th Anniversary Stadium.
During the fierce contest, disaster struck Thailand in the 15th minute after captain Chanathip Songkrasin went off with a thigh injury. With their talismanic player in the sidelines, Thailand were left helpless after Malaysia took the lead in the 32nd minute. Safawi Rasid managed to angle in a cross towards La’Vere Corbin-Ong, which the former Vancouver Whitecaps youngster poked home past Thailand goalie Kampol Pathomakkakul.
Being a goal down prompted Thailand to bombard the Malaysian defense, with a string of excellent saves from goalkeeper Syihan Hazmi preserving the Harimau Malaya‘s lead.
Negeri Sembilan goalkeeper Hazmi was having the game of his life in only his second cap for Malaysia, but eventually his defenses were breached in the fifth minute of injury time after Pansa Hemviboon plundered home Thailand’s equalizer.
Pansa’s late heroics forced the match to go into penalties, with Dion Cools, Syafiq Ahmad, Matthew Davies and Declan Lambert scoring for Malaysia while Pathompol Charoenrattanapirom, Suphanat Mueanta, and Kritsada Kaman managed to make their mark for Thailand.
With Supachok Sarachat being tasked in keeping Thailand alive, Hazmi once again showed his talents underneath the sticks as he did well to deny the Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo winger, allowing Corbin-Ong to dispatch the winning penalty for Malaysia.
Supachok was left inconsolable after the shootout, having to be comforted by his teammates as the Malaysia players celebrated their triumph.
Thailand will face Trinidad and Tobago in the third place match on September 25th’s early kick-off, while Malaysia will take on Tajikistan in the final in the late kick-off at the same day.