Thailand will take on Vietnam in the decisive battle of this year’s AFF Under-23 Championship 2022 after each team overcame their respective opponents in contrasting fashion at the Morodok Techo National Stadium this evening.
While Thailand faced little difficulty in disposing of Laos 2-0 in the first semifinal, Vietnam were stretched all the way in the second semifinal before they were able to beat Timor Leste 5-3 in the penalty shootout after both teams were tied scoreless.
“In spite of the situation that we were faced with, the team put up an amazing job. I don’t think luck has anything to do with today. It was all hard work and we deserved to win,” said Thailand head coach Salvador Garcia.
Thailand dominated the early exchanges and after some near misses, they finally prised open the lead in the 15th minute through Teerasak Poeiphimai, who pounced on a loose clearance from Laos keeper Phounin Phounin.
The Thais then doubled their advantage just seven minutes into the second half when Kroekphon Arbram converted a penalty after Thawatchai Inprakhon was felled inside the box.
Laos’ best chance of the game was off Visith Bounpaserth, whose attempt in the 54th minute came off the crossbar.
“I am more than satisfied with the performance of the team tonight. Thailand deserved the win given how they controlled the ball but my players did well given the circumstances,” added Laos head coach Michael Weiss.
In the meantime, Vietnam were made to toil for their place in the final this year after they were pushed to the full 120 minutes by a resilient Timor Leste side.
And in the ensuing penalty shootout, Vietnam emerged victorious 5-3.
“I have to congratulate the players who played tonight and also those who are in the quarantine centre. We had no choice but to play attacking and possession football and also keep an eye on their no. 21 (Paulo Freitas),” said Vietnam head coach Dinh The Nam.
Both teams put up a high-paced entertaining brand of football with Nguyen Trung Thanh and Vo Nguyen Hoang leading the attack for Vietnam while for Timor, Freitas played as the target man in the counterattack.
However in spite of the chances created, it failed to produce the goal to separate both teams as the game went into extra time.
And in the penalty shootout, the miss by Jhon Oliveira gave the advantage to Vietnam with Ngyuyen Thanh Nhan then making sure of the win by sending Timor keeper Junildo Pereira the wrong way for the win.
“It was not easy as were facing a tough opponent. And their level is higher than us. We adjusted certain things in the second half to break their formation. But it was a really good game tonight,” added Timor Leste head coach Bruno Maciel.
AFF U23 CHAMPIONSHIP 2022
24 February 2022
Laos 0-2 Thailand
Timor Leste 0 (3) – 0 (5) Vietnam
FIXTURES – Morodok Techo National Stadium
26 February 2022
1600hrs (3rd & 4th): Laos vs Timor Leste
1930hrs (FINAL): Thailand vs Vietnam
Pictures Courtesy @Sportfive