Botched free-kick works to Thailand's benefit
A poorly taken free-kick by Charyl Chappuis ultimately worked to Thailand's benefit in the AFF Suzuki Cup final as the Swiss-born midfielder found himself in the right position to score the decisive goal in his team's 4-3 aggregate victory over Malaysia at Bukit Jalil National Stadium on Saturday.
Chappuis takes many of his team's set-pieces but the 22-year-old found himself relieved of free-kick responsibility after he ballooned a shot into the crowd on the hour mark, just after Malaysia had taken a 3-2 aggregate lead.
So when the Thais were awarded another free-kick closer to goal eight minutes from time, Chappuis was not one of the four players who lined up the shot.
Instead he was in a more advanced position and the first to pounce on the loose ball, when goalkeeper Farizal Marlias could only parry away Sarach Yooyen's free-kick, to score his fourth goal of the competition.
"Normally, I will shoot the free-kicks but about 20 minutes before our goal, I took a free-kick and it went very far away," said Chappuis.
"I don't know what it was, maybe instinct for that goal. Because normally I never stand there but this time I just happened to be in the right place at the right time."
While Chappuis won the FIFA U-17 World Cup with Switzerland in 2009, he felt that Thailand's AFF Suzuki Cup victory was a significant milestone in his career.
"This is one of the bigger wins of my career," he said. "It's different from the FIFA U-17s when I was a defender because while I played in every game then, I was not so much in the focus like I am now.
"Now I score goals and I am in the senior team and people know me so this is maybe the bigger one."
His teammate Chanathip Songkrasin was named the Most Valuable Player of the tournament after his sparkling performance that included scoring the goal that sealed Thailand's victory in the final.
"It feels good to be named the Most Valuable Player and thanks to my teammates and to our supporters for helping me to win this award," said Chanathip, nicknamed "Messi J" by Thailand fans.
"But it was more important for me that we won the tournament because football is about 11 players and you are not playing alone.
"Malaysia played a good and hard game today but we did well against them and we won the game."