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AFF U23 Championship

AFF U23 Championship: Thailand trounce Laos 2-0 to seal final berth

10:10 pm AEDT 24/2/22
Thailand U23
Individual errors cost Laos dearly against Thailand...

Thailand progressed to the final of the AFF U23 Championship after defeating Laos 2-0 at the Morodok Techo National Stadium on Thursday afternoon. Goals in each half from Teerasak Phoeimiphai (14') and Kroekphon Arbram (52') were enough to propel Salvador Garcia's men to their third consecutive final.

It was one-way traffic right from the whistle with Thailand enjoying the bulk of the possession. Thailand were making the most of the wide areas with their wingers Niphitphon Wongpanya and Kroekphon Arbram. The full-backs in Thawatchai Inprakhon and Waris Choolthong were also contributing offensively to break down Laos' resistance.

The War Elephants did not have to wait long to get their nose in front courtesy of a goalkeeping error from Phounin Phounin. Wongpanya floated in a cross from the left flank for Poeiphimai, but before the striker could get to it, the keeper came out of his line to collect it. But he made a meal of a routine save and spilled the ball which allowed an opportunistic Phoeiphimai to bury the ball into the net.

Even after taking the lead, they did not take off their feet from the gas pedal and looked hungry for more. In the 27tth minute, Wongpanya and Inprakhon combined to open up Laos' defence once again. The wingback unleashed a powerful shot after he was played through on goal but this time Phounin was up to the task and punched the ball out of danger.

Laos had hardly ventured in the attacking third in the first half. They were going forward in bits and pieces with little penetration. Apart from a few stray attempts at goal from distance they had failed to conjure anything that would test Narongsak Nueangwongsa under the sticks.

The second half resumed in the same vein and Thailand got their insurance goal just seven minutes into the second half. Inprakhon was fouled inside the box by At Viengkham and the referee had no hesitation in pointing towards the penalty spot. Arbram took the spot-kick and his effort had enough power to beat Phounin who could not prevent the ball from rippling the net despite getting a hand to it.

After falling behind by two goals Laos started to show some urgency and carved out their first significant chance of the match. Damoth Thongkhamsavath forced a save from Nueangwongsa with an attempt from the edge of the box, but the rebound fell for Bounphachan Bounkong. The striker poked the ball towards goal but it hit the woodwork and came out.

Laos started pressing higher up the pitch that further opened up the match. Hans Michael Weiss' troops kept probing Thailand's backline with Bounkong and Khambai Thipphachan playing in tandem. In the 84th minute, Thongsamai Pinnalone came close to scoring but his effort from a tight angle went whiskers wide of the post. Minutes later, a scuffed clearance from Thailand centre back Theekawin Chansri fell for Khambai, but he could not beat the keeper with his attempt.

With this loss, Laos' dream to win the championship came to an end. However, all is not over for them as they will be participating in the third-place off match with the losers of the second semifinal on Saturday afternoon.