|Close save: Thai goalkeeper Waraporn Boonsing attempts to save a goal from Vietnamese defender Nguyen Hai Hoa during the SEA Games' women's football final yesterday in Myanmar. Thailand beat Viet Nam 2-1. — VNA/VNS Photo Quang Nhut
MANDALAY, MYANMAR (VNS)— Thailand came from behind to beat Viet Nam 2-1 to win the crown of the SEA Games' women's football competition yesterday in Mandalay, Myanmar.
The Thais, who failed in the final match two years ago in Indonesia, received their revenge as they went on to make Viet Nam the new former champions.
Nguyen Thi Minh Nguyet opened the score for Viet Nam at the 33rd minute, after a series of chances for the defending champions, who kept up their domination since the beginning whistle.
Nguyet had the ball bounce back after her teammate, Nguyen Thi Nga's, kick touched the cross bar. The striker, who was standing in the 5m box, managed the ball well and made a close, strong shootout into the goal.
The goal made the Thai players angry, as they handed repeated faults to the Vietnamese side. Midfielder Nguyen Thu Thanh Huong suffered a broken nose in one of Thailand's faults, at the 26th minute.
Thailand found no way to penetrate Viet Nam's area until the 40th minute.
In a chaotic situation near the box, defender Nga of Viet Nam, in an attempt to kick the ball out, handed it to midfielder Naphat Seesraum, who is one of two Thai players playing in the Japanese women's league, and had no difficulty in beating Vietnamese goalie Dang Thi Kieu Trinh.
Trinh, who celebrated her 28th birthday on Thursday, tried her best, but failed to save her net.
It was only two minutes after the break when Thailand scored its second goal.
Anootsara Maijarern made a narrow kick from the right wing, that went straight to the net.
Despite her efforts, Vietnamese goalie Trinh, who had not suffered a goal loss until the final match, could not touch the ball, which was out of her reach.
It was Maijarern's sixth goal at the tournament, as she became the SEA Games' top scorer.
The Vietnamese then tried to open consecutive attacks, but their attempts met with a strong defence.
Coach Chen Yun Fa made several changes in the forward line, but none could change the final result.
This was the second defeat of Viet Nam by Thailand in three recent SEA Games finals, and the fifth time Thailand was crowned the regional queen.
"We played well in the first half, but suffered goal losses, not because they (Thailand) played better than us, but because of seconds of loosening our attention," said Nguyen Sy Hien, chairman of the National Coaches Council.
"In general, our team had a good match, although they failed to defend their title. I remembered coach Fa had asked his players to take care of two best players from Thailand, but they could not do it, and both of them scored today.
"In the future, we may meet them in the Asian championships, and these mistakes will be corrected during their trainings," said Hien.
Earlier, Viet Nam were not able to surprise Thailand, and had to settle for two silver medals in futsal (indoor football) when the country lost to the Thais in both men's and women's final matches.
At the post-match briefing, coach Sergio Gargelli of the men's team said Vietnamese players lost part of their spirit after the first goal loss caused by the referee's hard decision. They then could not maintain their tight formation, which led to the defeat.
He added that there was still a big gap between the two countries in futsal, and Viet Nam needed to make a greater effort to fill this gap.
Tran Anh Tu, head of Viet Nam's futsal teams, said: "The women's team has tried their best, but failed to overcome Thailand, whose indoor football has developed much stronger than in Viet Nam, with championships for both senior and junior players organized every year.
"In Viet Nam, there has not been a national championship yet." — VNS