Singapore edge Myanmar 2-1; Indonesia rout Laos 6-0; Thais fire blanks to share points with Malaysia
Singapore edge Myanmar 2-1
Singapore edge Myanmar 2-1
The three-time champion Singapore came from behind to narrowly win the underdog Myanmar 2-1 in the group B’s second match-day today at the Southeast Asian Football Championship, Suzuki Cup, in Hanoi.
The opening goal was written for defender Lwin Khin Maung of Myanmar in the 13 minute after a fast counterattack.
With the Myanmarese defence showing much better discipline after losing 7-1 to hosts Vietnam in the opener, the Singaporeans were reduced to shooting from distance but none was successfully converted into goal during the first half.
In the second phase, Singapore piled up more pressure, playing with sometimes three strikers.
In the 62nd minute, forward Aleksander Duric leveled it 1-1 following an attack launched from the right flank.
And the last-gasp goal by Agu Cashmir in the 90th minute gave Singapore the first win and also helped relive their hope to advance at the tournament.
Both sides produced a lackluster performance with the struggle for the ball mainly taking place in the midfield where both troops were disposed heavily.
In the opening matchday on Thursday, Singapore tied 1-1 with the Philippines while hosts and defending champions Vietnam thrashed Myanmar 7-1.
Indonesia rout Laos 6-0
Hosts Indonesia kept their AFF Suzuki Cup dreams on track when they sensationally swept Laos aside 6-0 last night to emerge champions of Group A even though they still have one more match to play.
Indonesia have six points while Thailand and Malaysia will have to fight for the remaining semifinal slot.
Thailand, one of the pre-tournament favourites, dug themselves into a spot when despite dominating the match ended up sharing points with Malaysia. With two points in the bag, Thailand now have to beat Indonesia to advance.
At the Gelora Bung Karno last night, in front of over 40,000 fans, Indonesia knew what they had to do and took the fight opened the floodgates with a 26th minute penalty converted by skipper Firman Utina. Muhammad Ridhwan doubled the score just seven minutes later and the score remained until the break.
Five minutes after resumption, Indonesia continued their spree with a superb strike from Firman, his second of the match. Irfan Harrys Bachdim struck his second goal of the event when he made a lovely run into the box, easing past his markers to make 4-0 in the 62nd minute. Substitute Arif Suyono scored six minutes after coming on for Ridhwan. The speedy Oktovianus Maniani completed the rout in the 80th minute.
“It was a big win and I credit the players for their untiring efforts. Although we are already in the semifinals, we will not take it easy against Thailand in our last match,” said Alfred Ridle, head coach of Indonesia.
For Laos the loss was a bitter blow following their superb performance against Thailand two days earlier. But as coach David Booth explained: “Against a team like Indonesia or for that matter Thailand or Malaysia, you just can’t afford to make mistakes, you have to minimize them. Unfortunately, we conceded a penalty and then the second goal. It was difficult for a team like ours to bounce back, we are not that strong.”
Booth said that instead of keeping the score down, the team decided to go for the game. “We did not sit back, unfortunately it did not work. And then we conceded the early goal in the second half.”
Thais fire blanks to share points with Malaysia
Thailand made life difficult for themselves in the AFF Suzuki Cup when they were held to a 0-0 draw by an under-strength Malaysian side in the second Group A match at the Gelora Bung Karno stadium Saturday.
Thailand, who were surprisingly held by Laos in the opener on Wednesday, now have two points and must defeat hosts Indonesia in their final preliminary tie next Tuesday if they want to make the cut.
Malaysia, whipped 5-1 by Indonesia four days ago, on the other hand earned themselves a lifeline with the draw yesterday. They now have to beat Laos in two days, and also hope Thailand slip-up, to have a go of making the semifinals. But the draw did not come easy as the Malaysians had to absorb a barrage of strikes from the tireless Thais. The defenders performed well to turn it all away.
Thailand, which almost dominated much of the game, must have had at least 20 shots with one coming off the post, an indication that they were just short of some luck.
“It’s not frustrating any more, it seems like I getting used to watching the team completely dominate, create numerous opportunities and then waste them all. The last 15 minutes especially we had about four good chances including a possible penalty,” said a disappointed Bryan Robson, the Thai head coach. “It was another case of that tonight.”
“I would have liked to have won today but now we have to do things the hard way, it’s going to be a tough task to beat Indonesia at home,” Robson said. He added that his team had done enough in both matches but just did not score.
Thailand as expected fielded their best side, bringing in the talented midfielder Datsakorn Thonglao and Phitchitphong Choeichiu, striker Teerasil Dangda and tough-tackling defenders Natthapong Samana and Nataporn Phanrit. But to Robson’s dismay, the players were just not able to bring out their best. Many of the players are jaded after a long domestic season which only ended on November 28.
Realising they had to win, the Thais went on the offensive from the start but failed to finish anything they started. Malaysia too had some chances and could have actually stunned the Thais but Norsharul Idlan Talaha and Mohd Safee Sali missed several good chances. In the dying minutes, S. Kunalan had a brilliant chance to turn hero but his shot swept over the crossbar.
“We knew Thailand would field their best and we knew it would be difficult. To prepare for them, I made three changes including the goalkeeper. I told the boys that they must avoid making mistakes as the back and the defence did well today,” K. Rajagobal said.
“It was a tough first half as they attacked us, but in the second half we had more life and energy. We had some chances and I feel we should have scored earlier. However having scored first would have collected three points.”
On Laos, Rajagobal said they had shown they were no pushovers and expected yet another tough game next Tuesday.
Source: AFP/Tuoi Tre
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