Thailand rattled in two goals in the final ten minutes to claim a dramatic 4-3 aggregate victory over Malaysia in the Suzuki Cup Final.Thailand looked dead and buried when Malaysia went 3-0 up but came back to claim a famous victory.
Thailand took a 2-0 lead to Kuala Lumpur and were in confident mood. However, they got off to the worst possible start, courtesy of a dreadful refereeing decision in the fifth minute.
Phukom was adjudged to have committed a foul in the box, when replays clearly showed that it should have been a free-kick to Thailand. Rahim then calmly sent Kawin the wrong way from the spot.
Thailand reacted to this set-back positively and in the eighteenth minute Perapat was only inches away with a long range shot with the keeper beaten. Four minutes later Thawikan brought a good save from the keeper with another shot from distance.
Thawikan had a great chance after thirty-two minutes but he swung wildly at a great Narubadin cross at the far post, sending the ball well wide. He had another excellent chance just before half-time but shot straight at the keeper when well-placed.
Thailand were made to pay for those missed chances in first-half stoppage time. Kawin started to come for a right-wing cross but was caught in no-man’s land, leaving Mahayuddin free to head into an empty net.
The tie was now all-square and the momentum was certainly with Malaysia. Mentally, Thailand had to deal with a poor decision for the first goal and conceding so close to the half-time whistle for the second.
It got worse for Thailand in the fifty-seventh minute when Malaysia went ahead in the tie for the first time. Thailand conceded a needless free-kick, twenty-five yards out.
Dead-ball specialist Rahim curled a superb shot up and over the Thai wall and just inside the post, leaving Kawin well-beaten. The reaction of the Malaysia players and the crowd told its own story.
Of course, one goal for Thailand would change everything, so the game was far from over. However, Thailand were struggling to create clear-cut chances and time was fast running out.
Malaysia were defending deeper and deeper, allowing Thailand the freedom to attack. This tactic proved to be fatal, as Thailand turned the tie on its head in the last ten minutes,
After eighty-two minutes Thailand were awarded a free-kick in a dangerous position. Adisak’s firmly struck shot was turned aside by the goalkeeper. Chappuis was the first to react, turning the ball in from a difficult angle.
This meant that Thailand were now ahead on the away goals rule and Malaysia needed to score again. However, it was Thailand who were looking the more likely team to score and this they duly did four minutes from time.
A typically swift Thailand counter attack saw the ball delivered into the penalty area. When it came back out ,Songkrasim took deadly aim and smashed an unstoppable first-time shot high into the net.
It was a goal fit to win any cup and this young Thai team deserve immense credit for showing the strength of character to overcome adversity that would have seen many more experienced teams capitulate.
Thailand saw out the last few minutes without any real dramas. Malaysia were completely shell-shocked but only had themselves to blame for trying to sit on their lead and they got what they deserved.
There were scenes of pure joy as Thailand celebrated their victory. It was an emotional night that left Thailand supporters mentally drained. But it was worth it!