Thailand 4 Myanmar 0
Thailand roared into the semi-finals of the AFF Suzuki Cup on Tuesday with a 4-0 Group A victory over Myanmar that helped erase some of the memories of their failed 2010 campaign.
A beautifully-taken hat-trick from razor-sharp striker Teerasil Dangda and a headed goal from substitute Apipoo Suntornpanavej, who scored two minutes after being introduced into the action, handed the three-time champions their second win after the opening 2-1 victory over the Philippines.
The Thais were sent packing at the group stage in 2010 after insipid performances but wily coach Winfried Schafer has forged a formidable team that looks capable of breaking their 10-year drought with a fourth Asean crown.
The result left Myanmar in bottom spot on one point with Vietnam, who were beaten 1-0 by the Philippines in the earlier game at Bangkok's Rajamangala Stadium.
Schafer said that he was delighted with the performance of his team.
“I am very, very happy with the way we played tonight,” he said. “The players showed great mental strength, spirit and a lot of fight. We played a tremendous match.”
He added that Teerasil had shown with his hat-trick that he was one of the best players in the continent and captain Panupong Wongsa deserved special mention for his tireless display.
“Teerasil is one of the best players in Asia - he is fantastic,” said Schafer. “He is very clever and a good finisher - everybody likes him.”
Myanmar team manager Tin Myunt Aung said that lapses in concentration had cost the team dear.
“They lost their concentration and if you do that in football you lose,” he said.
“Myanmar are a young team and today they showed their lack of experience. Thailand are a very good side and their technique and tactics were far better than ours.
“But our players played very hard and we will try and win the next match against Philippines as we still have a chance to qualify.”
Thailand’s midfield general Datsakorn Thonglao lost his fitness race and was replaced by Sumanya Purisai in the only change to the team that started against the Philippines in the opening match.
Veteran Yan Paing was handed the lone striking role for Myanmar on his 29th birthday.
Thailand broke the deadlock in the 20th minute after a sweet build up, Teerasil Dangda displaying the predatory instinct that brought him 24 goals for Muang Thong United in the Thai Premier League last season with a cool finish.
Roared on by their passionate support, the home side launched wave after wave of attack but lacked the final touch.
Phichitphong Choeichiu, who was running the midfield in Datsakorn’s absence, came close in the 33rd minute when his stinging shot was palmed round the post by Thiha Si Thu.
Kyi Lin, who starred against Vietnam, was showing flashes of his boundless ability but Thailand were quick to close him down.
Thailand had two golden chances to double the scoring in a frenzied two-minute spell at the start of the second half.
Jakkapan Pornsai headed just wide after a trademark run and cross down the left from Theerathon Bunmathan in the 50th minute and Teerasil should have done better after being put clear through on the keeper by Phichitphong.
Apipoo Suntornpanavej, who scored a hat-trick against Bhutan in a build up match, came on for Sumanya in the 57th minute and two minutes later repaid the faith of his coach with a headed goal.
His close range header was pushed onto the underside of the bar by Si Thu but the keeper looked on in anguish as it rebounded into the back of the net.
Aung Moe tested keeper Kawin Thamsatchanan with a well-struck free kick in the 77th minute as Myanmar looked to get back in the game.
But Teerasil firmly slammed the door firmly shut with Thailand’s third goal in the 82nd minute and completed his hat-trick seven minutes later with a left-footed strike after neatly controlling a through ball.
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