A workman-like Thailand side did just enough on the night to fend off Vietnam to a scoreless draw in the second leg, semi-final 2 of the AFF Suzuki Cup 2020 as they coast to their ninth appearance in the final.
The deadlock at the National Stadium ensured Thailand’s passage to the next round on 2-0 aggregate – courtesy of their win in the first leg a few days earlier.
“I never thought that I would say this but tonight was a masterclass defending from the Thai team. I am unbelievably proud of the players as they put up a fantastic defensive job,” said Thailand head coach Alexandre Polking.
“We showed that we are not only an attacking side but we can also defend well. We know that Vietnam will change several of the players for a more attacking option.”
Added midfielder Phitiwat Sookjitthammakul, who took the Man of the Match award: “we showed that we can defend as a team and we will show it again in the two finals (against Indonesia).”
It was Vietnam who were the early aggressors and even with Nguyen Cong Phuong on the bench, Vietnam were all out on both flanks with the hope of overturning the two-goal deficit they suffered from the first leg.
However with the lanky Manuel Tom Bihr in the thick of the action, Vietnam were finding it hard to breakthrough.
A flurry of chances came off Nguyen Quang Hai in the closing stages of the first half but was either cleared or missed the target altogether.
The desperation in the Vietnam team began to show well into the second as a handful of changes failed to give the team further traction.
For Thailand, they were just sitting back on their two-goal advantage as they depended more on the counter-attack for Teerasil Dangda and Chanathip Songkrasin to move forward.
But in the end, the score remained all the way to the final whistle as Thailand will now hunt for their sixth ASEAN title in the two-legged finals.
“We lost today, we just have to accept it,” said Vietnam head coach Park Hang-seo afterwards.
“We started well today even though we had some issues.”
AFF SUZUKI CUP 2020
SEMIFINAL 2, Second Leg – National Stadium
26 December 2021
Thailand 0 (2) Vietnam 0 (0)
THAILAND make FINAL on 2-0 aggregate
Pictures Courtesy of Sportfive