Australia in Thailand's way
Palembang:It will be a Thailand-Australia re-match in the final of the 2018 AFF Women’s Championship following Wednesday's semi-finals.
Defending champions Thailand came from a goal down to beat Myanmar 3-1 at the Jaka Baring Stadium while Vietnam failed to hold on to an early lead to succumb to a 4-2 loss against Australia, represented by their Under-20 team, in the other semi-final at the Bumi Sriwiaya Stadium.
“The team responded well when Myanmar turned defensive after they got the lead,” said Thailand head coach Nuengrutai Sraithongvian, whose team had beaten Australia 4-2 in the group stage.
“But after getting the equaliser, we changed tactics and that worked well for us to get the win.”
The match did not come alive until the 24th minute where off a quick counter-attack; Myanmar put their noses in front when Khin Moe Wai fired in.
A stung Thailand got their act together and got the equaliser in the 34th minute through the speedy Kanjana Sung-Ngoen who slammed in a rebound.
Veteran Pitsamai Somsai headed in a 52nd minute free-kick from Silawan Intamee as Rattikan Thongsombut then finished things off in the 63rd minute with Thailand’s third goal of the game.
“Today, Thailand were a better team than us. That is something which we should accept,” said Myanmar head coach Win Thu Moe.
“We tried very hard to win the game but Thailand were just better. So we have to learn from this and try to get better when we play them again.”
While there were some expectations for a surprise in the other semi-final, it was not to be at the Bumi Sriwijaya Stadium as Vietnam seemed to be lacking in confidence as they allowed Australia more of the possession.
“When the opponents scored the first goal, I told the players to keep playing and keep pushing,” said Australia head coach Leah Blayney.
“Naturally, we are very happy with the result today because we reached the final of this tournament. We are looking forward to playing in the final.”
Even though Vietnam took the lead in the 17th minute when Nguyet Thi Tuyet Dung fired home from the edge of the Australian box, that lead was to last less than a minute.
The wily Alexandra Chidiac, who had missed a cross earlier, more than made up for it when she capitalised on a lapse in the Vietnam defence to stab the ball home to level the scores.
Vietnam seemed to be rattled by the quick reply and in the 35th minute, Australia went ahead when Courtney Jade Nevin fired in from some 25 metres.
Australia then stretched their lead in the 63rd minute with Kyra Cooney Cross swinging in from the right to beat custodian Tran Thi Kim Thanh yet again.
Australia’s fourth goal of the game came in the 75th minute with Chidiac running through the Vietnam defence while the game ended with a penalty for the latter that was finished by Tuyet Dung after Nguyen Thi My Anh was brought down inside the box.
“We tried very hard to win this game and while we scored first, I thought that the players were not so confident, so they always lost possession. That disrupted our game plan,” said Vietnam head coach Mai Duc Chun.
Thailand 3 Myanmar 1
Vietnam 2 Australia 4
Friday (Local time)
Vietnam v Myanmar (16:00)
Thailand v Australia (19:00)
Sources: aseanfootball.org, Football Association of Indonesia