Thailand’s skipper Kritsada Wongkaeo emerged the star of this year’s AFF Futsal Championship final after hammering a hattrick to steer the defending champions to a 5-3 win over Australia at the Bangkok Arena tonight.
Thailand, who are of world class level in the game of futsal, had a bumpy start. After failing to break through in the first half, they proceeded to concede a goal to the horror of some 14,000 fans that packed the indoor stadium. The silence was deafening as the fans sat back in their seats to consider the worse that could happen. Afterall, in the earlier playoff, Malaysia upstaged Vietnam to take the bronze.
After the scoreless first half, Thais had a scare when Warut Wangsama was stretchered out. Then, Suphawut Thueanklang scored directly from a corner kick but the referee ruled against it. And to their
In the 28th minute, it finally happened. Australia’s Daniel Fogarty and Jarrod Basger exchanged an excellent one-two to split the Thai defence. Basger’s opening goal did not dent the spirits of the Thais as they battled furiously battled back.
Kritsada finally gave the fans something to cheer about. Suphawut evaded a tackle from the keeper just on the left to set-up an unmarked Kritsada who easily tapped the ball in.
Kritsada was at centre of attention once again a minute later. This time he picked up a cross from Warut, whose injury was not so bad, and doubled the score in just two minutes.
Four minutes later Warut put the game beyond their rivals. With time running out, Australia pushed hard in their hunt for goals. They had some fine shots too , but as they pushed up, Thailand waited for their chance to launch quick counter attacks.
And that’s what they did in the 34th minute as the goalkeeper threw a long ball to the right to Warut who relayed to Sorasak.
Two minutes later, Warut added another to put the score at 4-1. Australia still pressed on with Basger slamming his shot into the post before Barrientos Badolato blasted a cross from Dean Lockhart in the 36th minute to put the score at an exciting 4-2.
The Aussies were fired up and picked up a third goal when Fogarty slammed home from close range. The Thais were clearly shaken with their officials all staring up at the clock and their fans screaming to rouse their national team up.
With less than a minute to go, Piyapan Ratana intercepted a pass, dashed up the centre to set-up Kritsada who sealed the victory and complete his hattrick on what was a glorious night for the hosts.
In the earlier 3rd-4th playoff this evening, Malaysia’s Saiful Nizam Mohd Ali sneaked in the winner two minutes from time to deliver a stunning 6-5 win over Vietnam.
Malaysia had trailed the Vietnamese right from the start and were trailing 5-4 when they hammered in the equaliser in the 16th minute. With time running out and the game tied at 5-5, Malaysia were awarded a free kick which Saiful Nizam Mohd Ali smashed down the centre to complete a sensational hattrick tonight.
3rd-4th Playoff: Malaysia bt Vietnam 6-5
FINAL: Thailand bt Australia 5-3