The last group stage match between Thailand and Malaysia turned out to be a massive thriller, despite the game concluding in a draw. Thailand blasted ahead in the first half but Malaysia bagged the equalizer, in the dying moments, after a defender conceded an own goal when trying to clear the ball.
After such an action-packed game, the expectations were naturally running high for the final. The two teams did not disappoint as the players gave it their all in an effort to be crowned the regional champions.
After a gruelling 560 minutes of playing in seven tough matches, Malaysia emerged victorious when they edged Thailand 2-1 in the nail-biting final today.
The Thais, with strong support from over 1,000 fans, were fired up and made a spirited start, forcing the Malaysians to fall back. The attacks were continuous and in the 16th minute Malaysian keeper came off his line to try and clear a corner kick from Sittha Boontha but failed to do so and skipper Theekawin Chansri made no mistake with his header.
As their confidence grew, the Malaysians began to foray upwards and started taking shots at their opponents’ goal. Muhammad Izrin Ibrahim, Muhammad Aliff Izwan Yuslan and Mohamad Khairil Mohd Zain tried their best to work their way through.
In the 40th minute, defender Adam Farhan Mohd Faizal had a good run-up but his shot was caught by Kasidej Rungkitwattananukul.
Thais had a great chance to double the score soon after the break, but Anucha Somonwat’s great run into the box ended with his shot rolling right across the goal.
The Malaysians then picked up the pace and started to pressure the hosts, once again quickly pushing up in numbers.
Their efforts paid off in the 68th minute when Muhammad Izrin picked up the ball outside the right of the box, took a few steps to line the shot and blasted low into goal.
The game looked destined to the dreaded shootout. Then, off a corner, Muhammad Nabil Qayyum rose to nod in the winner in the last minute. With three minutes added time, Thailand began chasing the game and naturally things got a little tense.
There was some pushing and shoving and the referee subsequently sent off Muhamad Khairil Mohd Zain and Thanawat Saipetch.
“They were committed and gave their best, first half we didn’t play well but in the second half, they played tremendously. And we won 2-1, it’s great to see, the coaching staff did a great job and that’s why we are successful,” said Malaysian coach P. Maniam after the match.
In the meantime, Indonesia came in third in the competition after beating Vietnam 3-2 on penalties. The score at the end of regulation was 0-0.
Venue: Institute of Physical Education (IPE)
3rd-4th Placing: INDONESIA bt VIETNAM 3-2 on penalties
FINAL: MALAYSIA bt THAILAND 2-1