Indonesia put up a stirring performance to beat host Thailand 3-1 in Semifinal 2 of the AFF Under-23 Championship 2023 to set up a final clash against Vietnam in two days.
In the match that was played at the Rayong Provincial Stadium, Indonesia took advantage of an out-of-sort Thailand side to score all three goals in the first half for the win.
“We had about 16 fit players and for that, I appreciate their effort against Thailand. Team cohesion is important and it is a marked improvement from the first game in the group,” said Indonesia head coach Shin Tae-yong.
Having several thousand at the stand need not necessarily work in Thailand’s favour as they seem to be a little off colour with the usually dependable Nethithorn Kaewcharoen unable to play his usual attacking game.
Indonesia were playing at full flight as they went in for everything and rarely allowed Thailand the chance to move forward.
Just ten minutes into the game Indonesia went 1-0 up where after picking up the short pass from Arkhan Fikri, striker Jeam Kelly Stroyer fired in a low grounder to beat Thai custodian Siriwat Ingkaew.
Long throw-in specialist Robi Darwis with the assist in the 23rd minute for Indonesia’s second goal as Muhammad Ferrari headed the ball into the far post.
Obviously rattled and under pressure, Thailand started to push for their first goal of the game and it came just four minutes later when Chukid Wanpraphao headed in a corner.
But Indonesia would finish the first half 3-1 in front when the cross from Arkhan was headed into his own goal by Thai midfielder Natcha Promsomboon.
Several changes to the Thai line-up after the break failed to improve things much as Indonesia defended well to restrict their opponents to several long-range efforts.
And in the end, Thailand just had to concede defeat against a determined Indonesian side.
“We conceded that early and that own goal really affected us. We just could not recover. We cannot blame anyone else but ourselves. The players just could not cope with the pressure,” said Thailand head coach Ithsara Sritaro.
In the meantime, defending champions Vietnam made the final when they disposed of Malaysia 4-1 in the earlier Semifinal 1 played at the same venue.
It took Vietnam just eight minutes to break down the shoddy Malaysian defence when Nguyen Minh Quang ran down the right for a low cross that was slammed into goal by the unmarked Dinh Xuan Tien.
In the 32nd minute, the loss of possession just outside the Malaysian box gave Vietnam just the opportunity they needed for Nguyen Quoc Viet to rifle in from distance to put the score at 2-0.
There was no preventing Vietnam from taking a 3-0 lead at the half when Xuan Tien made good on the cross from Nguyen Quoc Viet.
Five minutes into the second half, Malaysia grabbed their first goal of the game with Alif Ikmarizal Anuar heading in the cross from Muhammad Aliff Izwan Yuslan.
With five minutes remaining on the clock, Bui Vi Hao with the cross and Nguyen Hong Phuc with the finish to give Vietnam the 4-1 win and their place in the final for the second year in a row.
AFF UNDER-23 CHAMPIONSHIP 2023
SEMIFINAL 1: Malaysia 1-4 Vietnam
SEIMIFINAL 2: Thailand 1-3 Indonesia
FIXTURES – 26 August 2023
All matches at the Rayong Provincial Stadium
3rd & 4th Placing (1600hrs): Malaysia vs Thailand
FINAL (2000hrs): Vietnam vs Indonesia