|Thailand’s football players lift the AFF Suzuki Cup after winning the second leg of the final between Thailand and Indonesia 2-0 at Rajamangala Stadium in Bangkok on December 17. — AFP Photo|Viet Nam News
BANGKOK — Thai forward Siroch Chatthong scored twice against Indonesia to help Thailand lift the Suzuki Cup in Bangkok on Saturday, overturning a shock first leg deficit.
Goals on either side of halftime gave Thailand the 2-0 victory that allowed it to retain the hotly-contested Southeast Asian title for a record fifth time.
The pressure was on the War Elephants after a crushing loss to Indonesia in the final’s first-leg, when the Garuda took advantage of their home turf to become the first team in the tournament to breach Thailand’s defence with a 2-1 win.
But Thailand headed into halftime in high spirits on Saturday after Siroch got lucky and kneed a pass from Theerathon Bunmathan into the net just seven minutes before the break.
The strike shaved off Indonesia’s first-leg win advantage and set off a thunderous roar from the raucous, fan-packed stands in Bangkok’s Rajamangala Stadium.
Thailand charged confidently back onto the field after halftime and swiftly widened their lead when Siroch scored his second goal eight minutes in.
The squad continued their onslaught of attacks for the remainder of the match but failed to make another breakthrough.
In minute 81’ Indonesian goalkeeper Kurnia Meiga found some redemption in blocking a penalty kick by Thailand’s star striker Teerasil Dangda, who earned the cup’s top scorer award with six goals in the tournament.
The Garuda emerged as the dark horse of this year’s tournament after making it to the final despite missing out on more than a year of competitive matches due to a one-year ban from international events imposed by world football body FIFA.
The AFF Suzuki Cup was Indonesia’s first international tournament since the ban was lifted in May.
But the team will now go home empty-handed from the final for the fifth time, as Thailand’s smooth-passing, attack-minded players once again take the Southeast Asian title. — AFP