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Theerathorn strike seals AFF Cup triumph for Thailand

Theerathorn strike seals AFF Cup triumph for Thailand

FOOTBALL: Thailand secured their second successive AFF Cup trophy yesterday (Jan 16), seeing off a poor Vietnam side 1-0 in the second leg of the final to cement their status as the leading force in Southeast Asian football.

Football
By AFP

Tuesday 17 January 2023, 09:20AM


Thailand’s football team celebrates winning the AFF Cup final football match against Vietnam at Thammasat Stadium in Bangkok yesterday (Jan 16). Photo: AFP

Thailand’s football team celebrates winning the AFF Cup final football match against Vietnam at Thammasat Stadium in Bangkok yesterday (Jan 16). Photo: AFP

A fierce first-half drive from captain Theerathorn Bunmathan was enough to win in a scrappy encounter in Bangkok, played under the watchful eye of FIFA supremo Gianni Infantino.

Theerathorn and Peeradol Chamrasamee effortlessly controlled the centre for Thailand, leaving 2018 winners Vietnam chasing shadows for much of the match.

Without the full-throated support of the crowd they enjoyed in the first leg in Hanoi, Vietnam struggled to repeat the spirited performance that saw them scrape a 2-2 draw.

The 3-2 aggregate win gave Thailand their seventh AFF trophy - a record - and means they have successfully defended the title on three separate occasions.

Theerathorn’s 24th minute goal was the fruit of patient build-up play through the midfield, as Vietnam hung ever further back.

After a string of passes, lively number nine Adisak Kraisorn - a thorn in Vietnam’s side all evening - laid the ball off as Theerathorn arrived at pace, took a touch and unleashed a ferocious shot into the bottom corner from 25 metres.

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The goal rattled Vietnam, who shed what little cohesion they had shown and almost lost their heads, flying into rash tackles as the first half closed.

But it was the defending champions who ended the match a man short as Peeradol received a second caution in injury time.

Thai coach Mano Polking admitted it was not a “beautiful” performance but praised the professionalism shown by his team.

“All credit to the players - they did a fantastic job,” he said.

Thailand have now won the AFF Cup seven times, well clear of their closest rivals Singapore, on four.

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