ASC2018: ‘Nightmare’ for Chatchai and ‘Good Night’ for Thailand

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Malaysia buried the Thai arrogance and ego and instead turned the famed Rajamangala Stadium into a “nightmare” for goalkeeper Chatchai Budprom and his War Elephants with a fighting 2-2 draw for a place in the AFF Suzuki Cup final.
 
The stalemate in Bangkok on Wednesday was enough for Harimau Malaya to advance on away goals after the first-leg at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil last Saturday ended in a scoreless draw.
 
Thailand has won the premier Asean title for a record five times and was looking for their third title in a row. The Thais were cocksure of victory and in Chatchai’s own words it will be “good night Malaysia” and a “nightmare” outing for Malaysia at the Rajamangala Stadium.
 
Harimau Malaya, instead, turned the tables on the overconfident Thais although they fell behind not once but twice. However, with coach Tan Cheng Hoe, having drilled into his players to be “fully focused” since the first leg, it was a tremendous effort from them in Rajamangala.
 
“A big applause for the players. Nobody expected this but they gave more than a 100 percent effort in the do or die mission,” said Cheng Hoe, adding that the “journey is still long” at his post-match press conference.
 
Malaysia fell behind after 20 minutes and it came with a big dose of luck for the Thais. 
 
A long deep cross by Supachai Jaided on the left found Mongkol Tossakrai who headed across for Thitipan Puangchan to head towards goal. Goalkeeper Farizal Marlias, however, managed to save the attempt but to the dismay of all substitute Irfan Zakaria, who had come on for Aidil Zafuan Abdul Radzak minutes earlier deflected the ball into his net. Thailand 1-0.
 
Malaysia, however, upped their tempo and in a moment of brilliance, it was 1-1 on the night and aggregate but Harimau Malaya ahead on away goals. Syamir Safari probably scored one of the best goals of the tournament so far when he fired the ball into Chatchai’s right corner from the corner of the box. It was a nightmare for Chatchai.
The reigning champions again went ahead and this was on 63 minutes. The ball came off the bar and fell for Pansa Hemviboon whose header was further helped into the Malaysian net by defender’s desperate attempt to save.
 
The massive Thai supporters, who were celebrating Pansa’s goal, were silenced again, thanks to some clinical finishing by Norsharul Idlan Talaha who made it 2-2 on the night. Norshahrul controlled Syamer Kutty Abba’s assist, turned and beat Chatchai with an unstoppable classic shot on 70 minutes.
 
There was more drama to come in five minutes of added time. Thailand was awarded a penalty when Syamir was hauled up for hands inside the box and was sacked for a second booking.
 
The Thais were dancing in the stands as Malaysian supporters fell into silence. The man who was given the task to take the spot kick was none other than their top hitman Adisak Kraisorn with eight goals.
 
Farizal was seen saying a quick prayer between the posts. Adisak, who scored six goals in his side 7-0 win over Timor Leste in a group match at the same venue, however, blasted his kick over the bar and the rest is history. 
 
In the end, it was “Good Night Thailand” and “Nightmare” for Chatchai.
 
Malaysia, champions in 2010, last played in the Suzuki Cup final was in 2014where they lost to Thailand 4-3 on aggregate. – BY RIZAL ABDULLAH 
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