Sarayuth fires Thailand through (January 17, 2007)
Thailand booked their spot in the semi-finals of the Asean Championships last night with a 1-0 win over Malaysia at Supachalasai stadium.
Striker Sarayuth Chaikamdee hit the target three minutes after the break to send the three-time champions into the next phase.
Losers Malaysia also made it through after Burma and the Phillipines ground out a 0-0 draw at the Army Stadium.
Thailand finished top of Group A with seven points while Malaysia were second with four points.
Burma just missed out with three points.
Thailand will next face the runners-up from Group B in Singapore on January 24 before the return leg in Bangkok on January 28.
Group B will be decided tonight with Singapore taking on Indonesia for top spot.
The sides are currently level on four points, although Singapore have a much better goal difference courtesy of their 11-0 demolition of Laos on Monday.
Vietnam play Laos, but both teams have already been eliminated.
Thailand coach Charnwit Phalajivin said he was pleased with the way his players performed in front of a bumper home crowd.
''It was a difficult match for the team because our fans expected us to beat Malaysia,'' he said.
''Our attacking play was beautiful but the side were under a lot of pressure.
''Everyone expects that we cannot lose to any team in the Asean region.''
He said he was pleased with the final total of seven points from the preliminary round, especially because playmaker Datsakorn Thonglao was ruled out of last night's match with a back problem.
Malaysia coach Norizan Bakar sportingly applauded the victors.
''I would like to congratulate the Thai team and Charnwit for winning,'' he said.
''Thailand played very well and I think it was their best performance.
''But it was great for us to get through the semi-final because our players played their hearts out.''
Thailand attacked right from the start of last night's game and Kiatisak Senamuang had an early effort cleared by the visiting defence.
Suchao Nutnum headed onto the bar soon after, then Kiatisak blasted a chance high over the target.
Thailand kept creating plenty of chances but the game was all-square at the half-time whistle.
But that soon changed after the restart when Sarayuth got on the end of a cross to nod Thailand in front.
Defenders Niweat Siriwong and Jedsada Jidsawad worked hard to keep Malaysia at bay and the visitors' hopes dimmed further when Irwan Fadzli Idrus was sent off for a second yellow card in the 88th minute.
There was no way back and Thailand finished with a much-deserved victory.
Burma 0 Philippines 0
Thailand 1 (Sarayuth 48) Malaysia 0
P W D L GF GA Pts
Thailand 3 2 1 0 6 1 7
Malaysia 3 1 1 1 4 1 4
Burma 3 0 3 0 1 1 3
Philippines 3 0 1 2 0 8 1
Note: Thailand, Malaysia qualify for the semi-finals.
P W D L GF GA Pts
Singapore 2 1 1 0 11 0 4
Indonesia 2 1 1 0 4 2 4
Vietnam 2 0 2 0 1 1 0
Laos 2 0 0 2 1 12 0
Playing today: Vietnam v Laos; Singapore v Indonesia