Thailand romped into the final of the AFF Under-19 Championship here at the National Stadium KM16 when they overwhelmed Malaysia 5-0 in the first semi-final that was played this afternoon.
Three goals in the first half and then another two after the break was enough for Thailand’s passage as they look to add to another crown to the AFF BIDC U16 title they won last month.
“The target remained the same as it had been from the start of the tournament which was to win the title. I told the players that we need to work hard and play hard to make sure that we deliver the title for the enjoyment of the Thai people,” said Thailand head coach Anuruck Srikerd after the match.
“We struggled against a compact Malaysian defence in the first half hour but when we got the first goal, it opened up things. The midfield was the key and when we controlled it, we won the game.”
The Malaysians had gone into the tie this afternoon as the clear underdogs having made the cut following the huge favour that Vietnam did for the them in the final game of the group.
But it was obvious that playing without the influence of striker Muhammad Jafri Muhammad Firdau Chew leading the attack, the Malaysians seem to have lost focus.
They concentrated well at the start to put up a semblance of a sturdy backline but it did not take too long for Thailand to portend what was to come when Wisarut Imura rocked the post after just nine minutes.
With Malaysia rarely venturing forward except for the odd occasions, the Thais finally broke the deadlock in the 37th minute when Ritthidet Phensawat ran down the left for a shot past the outstretched Muhammad Hazrull Haffiz Zulkifly.
Muhammad Hazrull’s goal was breached again five minutes later when Worachit Kanitsribumphen slammed in the rebound after Wisarut’s attempt was blocked.
A rifling shot from Sansern Limwatthana just before the break gave Thailand their third goal as they trooped off into the dressing room full of confidence.
A minute into the second half, then Malaysia fell further behind Ritthidet robbed the ball off defender Tan Yung Hong to score as Suksan Mungpao then rounded things off in the 72nd minute with the fifth goal of the game.
“We played against a better team who is well prepared. It was a good lesson for us ahead of the AFC qualifiers in three weeks,” said Hassan Sazali Mohd Waras, the Malaysian head coach.
“The boys played to instruction at the start but they seem to have lost focus towards the end of the first half.”