Dec 13, 2012

Nike Match Report: Thailand 2–0 Malaysia

The Tigers of Malaysia fail to show their claws as they lose Fadhli Shas to a harsh red card and crash to a tame 2-0 defeat against Thailand in the Suzuki Cup semi-finals

From the opening minute of the game the home team dominated possession, playing some beautiful passing football despite the poor condition of the sodden pitch.  In the fourth minute the War Elephants were almost gifted the lead as Aidil Zafuan dallied on the edge of his own area, Jakkapan Pornsai stole in and looked to be through on goal however Farizal Marlias came out quickly to sprawl at the feet of the forward and reclaim the ball.

Despite being able to keep danger man Teerasil Dangda quiet, the Malayan Tigers were unable to have any of the play in the middle of the park with Datsakorn Thonglao pulling the strings for the home team.  It was he who created the halves best chance in the 30th minute when his fine through ball found Dangda, but with the goal at his mercy he fired wired from 18 yards when he really should have scored.

The half looked to be petering out until referee Lee Min Hu from South Korea made the baffling decision to show Malaysia’s Fadhli Shas a second yellow yard after an innocuous coming together with Datsakorn, who was also booked.  It was a perplexing decision by a referee who seemed determined to make himself the centre of attention, and one which made Malaysia’s task of reaching the final seemingly impossible.

The Tigers, who failed to create any chances of note in the first 45 minutes were almost behind 20 seconds into the 2nd half as Piyaphon Buntao got free down the right-hand side and cut it back for substitute Apipoo Suntornpanavej, however he mis-kicked wide with his first touch of the game.  The home team got the lead that their dominance deserved on 61 minutes however as Teerasil scored his fifth goal of the competition.  Panupong Wongsa cleared the ball as far as Amar Rohidan whose mis-control allowed Teerasil through on goal, Aidil Zafuan was the covering defender but his challenge was weak, giving the prolific forward all day to calmly slot past Farizal.

Two minutes later and Teerasil was presented with another chance when through on goal as the Malaysia defence disappeared, however he never looked comfortable and overran the ball allowing Farizal to collect.  However in the 65th minute the game, and Malaysia’s chances of retaining the Suzuki Cup went up in smoke at Theerathon Bunmathan put Thailand two up.  Farizal disappointingly spilled Jakkapan Pornsai’s 20 yard free-kick, allowing Theerathon to slam the ball home from six yards out from an acute angle.

It could, and should have been 3-0 after TV replays showed the ball had crossed the Malaysian goal-line in the 68th minute.  After Farizal had flapped at a corner, Buntao looked to have done enough to have forced the ball over the line, but the assistant referee mystifyingly gave a free-kick against the Thai defender in a let-off for Malaysia.  The Tigers escaped again in the 73rd minute as Sompong Soleb flicked a header off Theerathon’s free-kick, but his effort struck the bar with Farizal beaten.

It took until the 81st minute for a disappointing Malaysia team to register their first real attempt on goal with Norshahrul meeting Safiq’s far post free-kick with his head, however Kawin Thamsatchanan saved smartly.  In the 83rd minute Safee Sali should have handed Malaysia a lifeline as he rose to meet Mahalli’s centre, but his poor form continued as he again wasted a good opportunity sending his header well wide.

Despite creating several openings, Thailand could not add to their lead thanks to some slack finishing and brave goalkeeping by Farizal.  But a 2-0 victory was enough to send Thailand to their first final in four years, Malaysia will rue the sending off of defender Fadhli Shas, but in truth they never looked capable of progressing to the final in a tame performance.

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