Southeast Asia

Theerathon Leads Thailand to 7th AFF Glory

Thailand have successfully defended their AFF Championship title after edging out Vietnam 1-0 in Monday’s final second leg at the Thammasat Stadium in Pathum Thani Province. Fittingly it was captain Theerathon Bunmathan, an impressive figure throughout the 2022 edition of the AFF Championship, who scored the winning goal for the Changsuek, a first half stunner which Vietnam never recovered from.

Having played a 2-2 draw at the My Dinh Stadium in Hanoi during the first leg, Thailand knew that they would only need a 0-0 or a 1-1 draw to successfully defend their AFF Championship title by virtue of away goals. By contrast, Vietnam were determined to make departing head coach Park Hang-seo proud by reclaiming the AFF Championship title in the South Korean’s last match in charge of the Golden Dragons.

However, Vietnam were faced against a very well-drilled and prepared Thailand side who were determined to extend their dominance over Southeast Asian football with a record-extending 7th AFF title.

Thailand’s determination paid off in the 24th minute as Buriram United defender Theerathon exchanged the ball with Terengganu FC new signing Adisak Kraisorn, which led to former Yokohama F. Marinos ace Theerathon to blast a thunderous shot that went straight into the bottom left corner of Dang Van Lam’s goal.

With the tie slowly slipping away from their hands, Vietnam tried to push as they need to score twice without reply to turn things around. However, Pham Tuan Hai’s long-ranged effort in the second half was the Golden Dragons’ closest chance to draw things level, as Thailand sat back, soak up the pressure, and successfully defended their lead into full-time.

The 3-2 aggregate win meant that Thailand have successfully defended their AFF Championship title that they won in 2020, claiming a record-extending 7th title in the process. Thailand’s Teerasil Dangda and Vietnam’s Nguyen Tien Linh shared the top-scorers award with six goals each, while Theerathon was deservedly given the player of the tournament award.

Despite losing in the semifinals both Indonesia and Malaysia had something to celebrate about at the end of the tournament. Persebaya Surabaya star Marselino Ferdinan won the young player of the tournament award, while Malaysia nabbed the fair play award.