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War Elephants dumped out of SEA Games after draw with Vietnam

War Elephants dumped out of SEA Games after draw with Vietnam

SEA GAMES: The miracle three-time defending champions Thailand had been hoping for did not materialise yesterday (Dec 5) as the War Elephants made an ignominious first-round exit from the men's football tournament of the 2019 SEA Games.

Football
By Bangkok Post

Friday 6 December 2019, 09:48AM


Coach Akira Nishino and his team were sent packing from the tournament after a draw with Vietnam was not enough to ensure qualification. Photo: AFP

Coach Akira Nishino and his team were sent packing from the tournament after a draw with Vietnam was not enough to ensure qualification. Photo: AFP

The 2-2 draw against arch-rivals Vietnam was not the result the War Elephants needed to survive in the tournament, but Thailand coach Akira Nishino still called it a "fair result.”

Nishino started with three senior national team players - Supachai Chaided, Suphanat Mueanta and Supachok Sarachat - in his frontline as the Thais chased the needed two-goal victory over Vietnam.

Vietnam, on the other hand, were without their influential playmaker Nguyen Quang Hai who was left on the bench due to injury.

The Thais got off to a dream start and were two goals ahead after less than 15 minutes. Their first came in the fourth minute when a clearance by Vietnam goalkeeper Nguyen Van Toan bounced back off of Supachai and ended up in the net.

Then teenage forward Suphanat pounced on a loose ball in the 12th minute to double the Thai advantage after the Vietnamese goalkeeper had difficulty dealing with a high ball into his box.

However, the Vietnamese soon came back into the game, making things difficult for the Thais and a header by Nguyen Tien Linh reduced the margin to 2-1 only three minutes later.

There were opportunities for both sides but the score remained intact until half-time.

The Vietnamese came back stronger in the second half and controlled the game well.

Vietnam had a lucky break late in the second half when Thailand defender Chatchai Saengdao committed an unnecessary foul inside the box to concede a penalty.

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Nguyen Tien Linh's shot from the spot was saved by Thai goalkeeper Nont Muangngarm but the assistant referee raised the flag and the Vietnamese player didn't baulk on the second attempt to level the score 2-2.

With Vietnam dominating the game it became an uphill task for the Thais to secure the two-goal goal win.

Nishino said: "Both teams tried their best today so we can only call the draw a fair result.

"We were under-prepared for the tournament and we did not have a good start (losing to Indonesia in the first match).

"We recovered and performed better in our remaining games and it is a pity that we could not make it to the semi-finals.

"We have to accept the result and move on," added the Japanese.

The Thai U23 team will next take part in the AFC U23 Championship finals, which the Kingdom will host in January.

The Thais are in Group A with Iraq, Australia and Bahrain.

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