Thailand did just enough to coast past Brunei Darussalam 3-0 as they took firm control of Group A of the AFF Under-23 Championship 2023 here at the Rayong Stadium.

Their second full points from two matches played following their identical 3-0 win over Myanmar in their first game of the group put the Thais in the driver’s seat as they head into the final game of the preliminary round against Cambodia in two days.

“We did not fully utilise the tactics that we were working on and from this match, it is obvious that we still need to improve for the next game,” said Thailand head coach Ithsara Sritharo.

While many were expecting a torrid night for the Brunei DS side that had conceded five goals to Cambodia, the gameplan for the Sultanate side was always going to be defend, defend and defend.

Thailand’s Nathathop Kaewklang gave an indication of what’s to come with a teasing shot just after four minutes in a game which they knew that they could well dominate.

And in the 15th minute, Thailand prised open the lead when the cross from Nathatop was not cleared by the Brunei defence which gave the chance for Varintorn Watcharapringam to sneak in from behind for the finish at the far post.

Rattled, the Brunei defence attempted to close ranks but just five minutes later, they would concede the second goal of the night when Nathatop once again the assist from the corner for Pattara Soimalai to head the ball into goal.

Trailing by 2-0 at the break, Brunei had little choice but to shore up their defence further and fend off the onslaught as much as they possibly could.

Even Brunei lone striker Muhammad Bazli Aminuddin had to help out in the defence as they attempted to keep the score low against a confident home side.

However, Thailand still managed to squeeze in a third goal in the 67th minute with a corner that was headed back into the box by Man-of-the-Match Nethithorn Kaewcharoen as Chiraphong Raksongkham then nodded it home.

“Well, we were playing against one of the best teams in this competition. So we had to defend as well as we could. We did well at times but not at others,” added Brunei DS head coach Atsushi Hanita.

In the meantime, Cambodia’s hope of making the cut to the next round hangs in the balance following their drab 1-1 draw against Myanmar.

It was the one point that they could have done better with considering that they had taken the early lead only to let Myanmar escape late in the game.

“Certainly, it is not the draw that we wanted but it is something which we need to improve on going into our next and final game in the group (against Thailand) in two days,” said Cambodia captain Taing Bunnchai.

The sweltering heat did little to curb the enthusiasm of both teams as Myanmar’s Khun Kyaw Zin Hein tested Cambodian keeper Reth Ly Heng from a freekick early in the game.

But in the 13th minute, Cambodia carved out the lead when off a throw-in, Kong Lyhour curled in a shot past a fully stretched Pyae Phyo Thu.

With the single-goal advantage, the Cambodians took their foot off the pedal as they allowed Myanmar the chance to move the ball around.

In the 38th minute, striker Swan Htet weaved past two defenders before unleashing a shot that was blocked by Reth as Myanmar then finished the first half with an inswinger from Moe Swe Aung that almost found its intended target.

Myanmar would keep up the pressure well into the second half as the introduction of Min Maw Oo gave them more pace and in turn, added further pressure on the Cambodian backline to protect their lead.

A double chance in the 64th and 66th minute almost paid off handsomely for Myanmar but for the excellent work of Reth in between the posts.

Maw Oo was running into spaces and getting behind defenders and with two minutes left on the clock, the hesitant Cambodian defence would pay dearly for their failure to cleat the ball from deep as it allowed Khun Kyaw to pounce for the finish.

“We fought hard for the one point today, so now we will have the last game in the group to play for,” said Myanmar captain Thet Hein Soe.




19 August

Myanmar 1-1 Cambodia

Brunei DS 0-3 Thailand


21 August – Kick-off at 2000hrs

Thailand vs Cambodia (Rayong Stadium)

Brunei DS vs Myanmar (Rayong Provincial Stadium)








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