Thailand moved into the AFF Suzuki Cup semi-finals with a 3-2 victory over Malaysia in Singapore. It was a thoroughly entertaining game with both sides playing their part by playing open, attacking football.
The game had been delayed for two and a half hours, due to torrential rain. However, the artificial surface meant that the game could start immediately once the rain had stopped.
Thailand were in confident mood after defeating holders Singapore in the first match.They dominated the opening exchanges and were unlucky not to break through twice in the opening ten minutes.
They were playing neat, flowing football which often had the Malaysians chasing shadows but they were unable to carve out a really clear cut chance. So it came as something of a shock when Malaysia took the lead.
They worked the ball down the Thai left and when the ball reached Yahyah, he was given too much time and space by the Thai defence to move into the box and shoot into the far corner.
Thailand’s retort was instant and they created a good chance but the ball flew just wide of the post when they should have at least hit the target. Thailand then brought on Adisak five minutes before the interval and he made an instant impact.
A low cross from the right came into the Malaysian box and Adisak showed great anticipation by bravely getting in between two defenders to just reach the ball before the keeper and turn it into the net.
It was the young striker’s first touch and it deservedly brought Thailand level. But that was not the end of the drama as Malaysia almost regained the lead in spectacular fashion , right on half-time.
The ball was cleared by the Thai defence but it was picked up by a Malaysian player, ten yards inside his own half. Showing great awareness he noticed the keeper off his line and sent a superb lob goalwards.
The Thai keeper knew immediately that he was in trouble and began back-pedaling frantically. However, he was unable to get back in time but fortunately for Thailand, the ball bounced on top of the bar.
So the match was all-square at half-time with Thailand having had much the better of the play but they were also fortunate not to be a goal down.
The second-half began just as the first, with Thailand in the driving seat. Twice shots flew over the Malaysian bar from very promising positions as Thailand opened up the Malaysian defence with some neat inter-play.
However, again as in the first-half, Malaysia stunned the Thais with a goal out of the blue just after the hour mark. There seemed little danger when Rahin collected the ball on the Thai left, some twenty-five yards out.
However, he was allowed to cut inside and move unchallenged into the area before finding the net with a low shot. It really was dreadful defending, almost a carbon-copy of the first goal.
Malaysia grew in confidence and enjoyed a period of sustained pressure on the Thai defence, which this time stood firm. Thailand broke the shackles in the seventy-first minute but were denied by the post.
The reprieve was not to last for long as a minute later the Malaysian defence allowed Chappuis space in the box, following a neat lay off, and he hammered a great shot high into the net.
Six minutes later Adisak almost put Thailand ahead but his shot flew agonizingly wide of the far post. Malaysia were also having their moments and the game was finely in the balance.
As the game moved towards stoppage time, it looked like both sides would have to settle for a draw but enter that man Adisak once again. Thailand moved the ball swiftly down the right flank.
The ball was cut back into the box and Adisak, showing great technique, controlled the ball superbly before crashing an unstoppable shot high into the net. It was a goal fit to win any match.
It had been an excellent game of football with Thailand just about deserving their victory. Buriram fans may well be questioning the wisdom of allowing both Chappuis and Adisak to leave.
They were both key figures in this Thai win. Chappuis was excellent in midfield and both Adisak’s goals showed that he has a striker’s predatory instinct around the penalty area. Time alone will tell.
Thailand face Myanmar in their last group game on November 29th, kick off 19.00 Thai time.