Indonesia 2 Laos 2
Kuala Lumpur – Substitute Vendry Mofu equalised in the final minute as Indonesia avoided a shock defeat at the hands of Laos with a 2-2 draw in their opening Group B match at the AFF Suzuki Cup on Sunday.
In a match that saw a player from each team sent off, Keoviengpheth Lithideth appeared to have given the Indochinese side all three points when he fired home after a fine diagonal run into the box 10 minutes from time.
But with just seconds of regulation time remaining, goalkeeper Sengphachan Bounthisanh failed to hold a shot by Andik Vermansyah and Vendry was on hand to fire home the equaliser much to the relief of his side.
Khampheng Sayavutthi had opened the scoring for Laos at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium with a penalty in the 30th minute after Indonesia goalkeeper Endra Prasetya had been sent off for a last-man challenge on Vilayout Sayyabounsou.
But Laos winger Sopha Saysana was also shown a red card shortly afterwards and Indonesia levelled the score with a header by Raphael Maitimo three minutes before the break.
While disappointed with the draw, Indonesia coach Nil Maizar felt that his players had nothing to be ashamed of.
“We were looking for a win but I am proud of my players because even when we were trailing 2-1, they still tried hard to score and get back into the game,” he said.
Added Indonesia captain Bambang Pamungkas: “The first game in a tournament is always difficult . Of course the result today is not good for us but it is still game on as we have two games left and we will try to focus on our next game against Singapore.
“We had so many new players in our team and they were a bit shaky. But they worked very hard for this game and a draw was not too bad at the end.”
Indonesia had won all four previous games against Laos in the competition and they dominated the early exchanges but were let down twice by Irfan Bachdim’s poor finishing.
The Netherlands-born forward was set up by Andik’s cross from the right in the sixth minute but sent a glancing header wide and he then latched onto a cutback by Andik five minutes later but fired his initial shot straight at Sengphachan before scooping the rebound over.
Laos began to come more into the game and Soukaphone Vongchiengkham slipped a delightful through pass to Khampheng in the 24th minute who surged clear and forced a good save out of Endra.However, the Indonesia goalkeeper’s contribution to the match ended shortly afterwards when he was sent off after he slid in to tackle Vilayout as the Laos forward outpaced Handi Ramdhan and bore down on goal.
Wahyu Tri Nugroho came on as Oktovianus Maniani was sacrificed and his first job was to pick the ball out of the net as he was sent the wrong way from the penalty spot by Khampheng.
But just three minutes later, Laos were reduced to 10 men themselves when Sopha, in attempting to clear the ball on the left flank, swung through and caught Andik on the thigh and received his marching orders.
Indonesia could have levelled when Maitimo’s header off Tonnie Cusell’s corner from the right bounced off the ground and caused problems for Sengphachan who scooped the ball away for another corner.
Cusell sent the ball in from the other side of the pitch and while Bambang’s initial header came back off the crossbar, the ball came to Maitimo rose above the Laotian defence to send a looping header into the net for the equaliser.
Despite that setback, Laos continued to show plenty of attacking intent after the break and Keoviengpheth had an effort disallowed as he used his hand to control a cross by Soukaphone before putting it into the Indonesian net.
Khampheng was denied by Wahyu after a fine run into the box but Keoviengpheth made no mistake in the 80th minute when he beat two defenders on a diagonal run before slamming a low right-footed shot past Wahyu.
But with Laos on the verge of a famous win, Andik cut in from the right and sent in a low stinging shot that Sengphachan could not hold on to which allowed Andik to nip in and level the score.
Laos coach Kokichi Kimura lamented the late lapse which cost his side the three points.
“The players put in a good performance today and they show a good understanding of our training and tactics but we had no luck today,” said the Japanese tactician.
“With more experience, maybe we could have won the game but I think that we showed good defence and a good counter-attack and we deserved to win.
“Maybe the sending-off (of Sopha Saysana) was unlucky but that is the referee’s decision.”