Dominant Thais still hold benchmark

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Three out of four ain’t bad!

It was another good outing for Thailand at the SEA Games this year when they captured three out of four titles at stake with win in Men’s football, Men’s Futsal and also Women’s Futsal.

The only crown to elude them this time round was Women’s Football which was grabbed by Vietnam.

And while the win fell short of the clean sweep they scored at the 2013 SEA Games in Myanmar, still winning three out of the four titles on offer spoke volumes of Thailand’s consistency.

Other countries in the region might have close the gap but the Thais still set the benchmark in the sport.

In football, which has often been regarded as the most important gold medals of all gold medals, the Thais showed that they had the quality to snatch their 16th titles in the history of the Games since 1959.

A distant second is Malaysia with just six gold medals.

The Thais won straight eight gold medals between 1993 to 2007. Are they about to embark on another streak after winning their third title since 2013?

“There were some concerns and critics before the start of the SEA Games that the squad we have now are not good enough. But we showed after the win over Malaysia (in the final), that this set of players are very, very capable,” said Thai head coach Worrawoot Srimaka.

“I believe that we can only get stronger from here. The experience here has been invaluable. I can assure you that we will be competitive at the AFC U23 Championship (in China next year).”

In Men’s Futsal, the Thai team suffered a shock when they were stunned 4-2 by Indonesia in their second game of the competition at the Panasonic Sports Complex.

But the triple champions – who had beaten Vietnam in their first game – bounced back when they thumped Myanmar and then beat hosts Malaysia in their final round robin game to lift their fourth Futsal crown.

“The gap between teams in ASEAN is getting closer,” said Thai head coach Pulpis. “This is largely due to the constant competitions that we have over the years in ASEAN. We will have a lot of work to do for the next assignment.”

While the Thai men suffered showed some anxious moments, the women did not go through all that issues as they easily won all their matches scoring a total of 27 goals in the process.

But just like the men, the win gave the Thais their fourth women’s Futsal title in a row after wins in 2007 (Thailand), 2011 (Indonesia) and 2013 (Myanmar).

“Although we dominate, I think that we could do more for the women’s game,” said Thai coach Udom Taveesuk. “We need more constant matches in the region for the game to grow.”

In Women’ Football, it was all down to between Thailand and Vietnam as the two sides battled for the overall title in a round-robin competition.

With the Thailand-Vietnam tie locked in a 1-1 draw, the decision as to who will emerge champions boiled down to their results against the other teams.

In the end, Vietnam emerged winners after scoring just two goals more to equal the number of titles won by their nearest rivals Thailand.

Both teams now have the same number of five titles to their name since the women’s game was introduced back in 1985.

“It has been a very tough tournament. But I am just glad that we managed to win the gold medal,” said Vietnam coach Mai Duc Chung. “It is a very important win for us. But I hope that women’s football will continue to grow and given more exposure.”

In all, this year’s SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur has been a largely positive experience where the more important factor is to have all four events be included at the next SEA Games in the Philippines in two years.

Till then, all teams should work harder to bring further quality to their game.

29th SEA Games KL2017 Women's Football - Vietnam vs Myanmar

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