Host Thailand booked their place in the semifinals of the AFF Under-23 Championship 2023 after beating Cambodia 2-0 tonight to emerge as Group A winners.
In the match that was played at the Rayong Stadium, the Thais did just enough to score two goals in the second half for the win.
“It was not an easy game to play given the heavy rain but we fought hard to make the cut to the semifinals,” said Thailand’s second goal scorer Nethithorn Kaewcharoen.
After beating Myanmar 3-0 in their first game and then Brunei Darussalam by the same scoreline in their second encounter in the group, the Thais were in no real danger of losing the cut to the next round.
With the experience of having played at the SEA Games 2023 still fresh, Thailand were in full control throughout the exchange as they restricted Cambodia to just a handful of opportunities in the first half.
And while Leng Nora was a handful down the left and Sam Oi Tina did test Thai custodian Siriwat Ingkaew with a dipping shot early in the game, that was to be their only real chance before the break.
In comparison, Thailand were just contented to play the ball around without actually pushing for the lead where their best effort was in the 26th minute with a mad scramble that was cleared by Cambodian captain Taing Bunnchai.
The three substitutions after the breather injected Thailand with more sense of urgency and just four minutes in, they grabbed the lead when a header from Chukid Wanpraphao was pushed into goal by Cambodian defender Sam.
Having to play catch-up with the rain coming down hard was always going to be difficult for Cambodia, even though they came close with a Sin Sovannmakara’s 64th minute effort.
But ten minutes to the end, Thailand made sure of their third full points when a hard grounder from Nethithorn took a deflection into goal to beat Cambodian custodian Reth Ly Heng for the second time on the night.
“The passion and the effort against a team on paper which is much, much stronger than us is contagious. We will do better next time,” said Cambodia head coach Felix Dalmas.
At the Rayong Provincial Stadium, Myanmar beat Brunei Darussalam 4-1 to finish third in the group this year.
Myanmar had to contend with a cagey Brunei DS defence before they got their first goal of the game through Naung Naung Soe in the 28th minute.
They then added further goals through Swan Htet in the 47th minute, Moe Swe No (52nd) and Chit Aye (67th) with Brunei’s only goal of the game coming through Muhd Wafiq Danish Mohd Hasimulabdillah in the 71st minute.
AFF UNDER-23 CHAMPIONSHIP 2023
GROUP A – RESULTS
Thailand 2-0 Cambodia
Brunei DS 1-4 Myanmar