It was a long shot for the Malaysians after they dropped two goals in the first leg. But following a remarkable first half in the second leg tonight, Thailand’s advantage was wiped out with goals Safiq Rahim and Indra Putra Mahyuddin.
By the 58th minute, thanks to a brilliant goal from Safiq, the Malaysians sensationally snatched the lead.
“IT was the perfect beautiful game,” said Thai coach Kiatisak Senamuang. “I can’t believe the turnout. It was exciting all the way as we had expected. “
Thailand, however, were far from done. Led by their star player, Channathip ‘Messi J’ Songkrasin, constantly harassed the Malaysian defence. With some ten minutes to go, the Malaysians started to show signs of slowing down, a problem which they have had throughout the tournament.
To the horror of the Malaysian fans, Charyl Yannic Chappuis broke the defence in the 83rd minute.
The Malaysians, despite the support of around 100,000 fans, tried to charge back but could not do much as they had probably run out of steam. The Thais were fired up and claimed a second goal, which effectively ended Malaysia’s hopes, five minutes later through Messi J to claim their fourth AFF Suzuki Cup title.
Thailand, winners in 1996, 2000 and 2002, thus ended a 12 year wait for the coveted title. The victory was no surprise as the Thais have enjoyed a revival in the last few years.
After re-claiming the SEA Games gold last year, the Thais, under head coach Kiatisuk ‘Zico’ Senamuang, had a tremendous run in the Asian Games where they finished fourth.
For this tournament, Zico relied primarily on the younger players and it paid off handsomely. On the other hand, the Malaysians fielded an experienced side which included many players from their win four years ago in 2010.
For Malaysia, playing their third final, after appearances in 1996 and 2010, the loss was painful especially after taking the 3-0 lead.
Considering the Malaysians were not given a ghost of a chance prior to the start of the event, coach Dollah Salleh has done an amazing job in the one-month he had with an ‘ageing’ team.
In tonight’s match, the Malaysians, trailing by two goals from the first leg, needed to haul themselves back into the game with an early goal.
And that’s exactly what the hosts got when they were awarded a penalty after Norshahrul Idlan Talaha was brought down in the sixth minute.
Safiq, who had already scored three goals, stepped up once again to take on the responsibility of taking the spot kick. And once again, the former skipper of the winning 2010 AFF Suzuki Cup team, did not disappoint when whipped his shot low into the corner.
Adisak Kraison, the two-goal hero when Thailand edged Malaysia 3-2 in the group stage, let loose a nasty shot which to his dismay, swerved away from goal.
Malaysia had a blow when Azammuddin Mohd Akil clashed with the Thai keeper, Kawin Thamsatchanan, and had to be replaced. Safee Sali was sent into the fray and within a few minutes had a crack but it sailed over the crossbar.
Malaysia picked up two bookings through Mohd Amri Yahyah (28th) and Indra Putra Mahyuddin (28th). Just past the half hour mark, Kroekrit Thawikan slammed his shot into the side-netting.
With time almost up, Indra Putra rose high to head in a long cross from Amri.
In the 59th minute, Suttinun Phukhom brought down Norshahrul at the top of the box. A confident Safiq let loose a superb shot which whizzed past the Thai goalkeeper. The fans responded with a massive roar.
The Thais never gave up and in the 83rd minute, Charyl, coming in from the left, pounced on a clearance from Malaysian keeper Mohd Farizal Marlias and squeezed his shot in at the far post.
With three minutes left, Channathip, clearly the best player throughout the tournament, scored to concluded the story of the AFF Suzuki Cup 2014.
Channathip was deserving awarded the Most Valuable Player Award while Safiq was the Top Scorer’s Award.
“I only had a month with the team, so I had no choice but to use the older, experienced players,” added Malaysian coach Dollah Salleh. “I thought that we did well under the circumstances where we came close, real close to winning the title.”
MALAYSIA: Mohd Farizal Marlias (GK), Mohd Afif Amiruddin (Mohamad Muslim Ahmad 69th), Muhammad Shukor Adan (cpt), Mohd Badhri Mohd Radzi, S. Kunanlan, Azammuddin Mohd Akil (Safee Sali 20th), Muhammad Zubir Azmi, Safiq Rahim, Norshahrul Idlan Talaha, Indra Putra Mahyuddin (Gary Steven Robbat 78th), Mohd Amri Yahyah.
Head coach: Dollah Salleh
THAILAND: Kawin Thamsatchanan (GK, cpt), Perapat Notechaiya, Kroekrit Thawikan (Adul Lahsom 87th), Suttinun Phukhom, Sarach Yooyen, Charyl Yannic Chappuis, Prakrit Deeprom (Sarawut Masuk 63rd), Narubadin Weerawatnodom, Tanaboon Kesarat, Chanathip Songkrasin, Adisak Kraisorn.
Head coach: Kiatisuk “Zico” Senamuang
AFF SUZUKI CUP PAST WINNERS
|2002||Indonesia, Singapore||Thailand||Indonesia||2-2 (extra-time)
|2004||Malaysia, Vietnam||Singapore||Indonesia||3-1, 2-1
5-2 (on aggregate)
|2006||Singapore, Thailand||Singapore||Thailand||2-1, 1-1
3-2 (on aggregate)
|2008||Indonesia, Thailand||Vietnam||Thailand||2-1, 1-1
3-2 (on aggregate)
|2010||Indonesia, Vietnam||Malaysia||Indonesia||3-0, 1-2
4-2 (on aggregate)
|2012||Malaysia, Thailand||Singapore||Thailand||3-1, 0-1
3-2 (on aggregate)
|2014||Singapore, Vietnam||Thailand||Malaysia||2-0, 2-3
4-3 (on aggregate)