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AFF Championship

AFF Mitsubishi Electric Cup 2022: Slick War Elephants put Cambodia to the sword to secure semi-final berth

20:05 GMT+3 02/01/2023
Thailand Cambodia Theerathon Bunmathan Reung Bunheing AFF Cup 2022

The permutations were tight coming into this one- a defeat for Thailand could see them eliminated at the group stage for the first time since 2010, while seeing Cambodia reach the knockout stages for the first time ever. A win, however, might not even be enough for the War Elephants, as an Indonesia victory over Philippines by a bigger margin would see them supplanted as group winners.

Knowledge of this was reflected in Alexandre Polking’s lineup, as he picked both Teerasil Dangda and Adisak Kraisorn in an attacking selection. However, it was Cambodia who had the lion’s share of the early chances. First Reung Bunheing fired wide, before Lim Pisoth latched on to Chanthea’s layoff to force a save from Thai custodian Kittipong. They really should have gone ahead just five minutes after that, as Chanthea again blasted over, totally unmarked, eight yards out.

They were made to pay late in the first half, as Thailand were awarded a penalty following a foul by Yeu Muslim. Teerasil Dangda, already the record scorer in this competition, needed no second invitation, and blasted home the opener for 1-0.

Polking’s side then doubled their advantage four minutes after half-time, as Sumanya raced onto Sarach Yooyen’s through ball and stabbing an effort beyond Keo.

With Indonesia 2-0 up against the Philippines, Thailand needed another goal, and they nearly got it as Teerasil’s effort was parried onto the post by Keo midway through the half.

However, the Angkor Warriors wouldn’t take this lying down. Atoning for his earlier wastefulness, Chanthea received Sa Ty’s ball in the box, before swivelling beyond Kaman and rifling a left-footed shot past Kittipong to haul his side back into it.

It was not to be, though. With a minute left on the clock, Teerasil wrapped up the points, and first place, for his side with a long-range drive from the edge of the area, which flew beyond Keo and into the net. The record champions are through as group winners, and will fancy their chances of going all the way again.